Cardinals take first-place Somerset to five games in loss
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Southside quickly has identified itself as one of the title contenders in revamped District 29-5A.
With two wins in its first three district matches, the Cardinals (12-11, 2-1) have shown that they’re ready to compete with the best in the district which stretches south to Laredo and west to Eagle Pass. Southside split two 29-5A matches last week, defeating Laredo Cigarroa (14-15, 1-2) Sept. 19 on its first road trip and falling in five games at home against fellow challenger Somerset (13-7, 3-0) Sept. 16.
“I think it’s going to come down between us, Medina Valley and Somerset,” Southside coach Anna-Rosa Soto said. “We had a tough preseason to prepare for this. It’s going to be a challenge – and I know the girls want to be challenged. I’m hoping they’ll keep fighting for it.”
Somerset and Medina Valley (17-7, 3-0) shared the district lead at the end of the first full week of competition. The Cardinals were alone in third place after defeating Cigarroa 27-25, 14-25, 27-25, 25-13 in Laredo.
A Sept. 16 match at Southside unfolded as essentially a battle of coaches’ daughters.
The Bulldogs won the first game 25-17 as Southside missed four serves, most of which were rally killers. The Cardinals then took charge, winning the next two sets 25-21 and 25-18 as they relied increasingly on Soto’s stepdaughter, freshman Mia Soto (25 kills, 2 aces).
“We got the momentum back our side in the second game and the third game,” Soto said. “We did a better job of receiving serve and a better job of serving.
“One of my biggest concerns was that Mia Soto had 25 kills, but we went away from her. Against teams like that, you need to keep finding your go-to person.”
Soto tied Game 2 15-15 with a block that sparked the Cardinals. Briana Martinez increased the lead with two-straight kills, the first on an alert play for a kill and the second that ended a long rally.
“She’s a big leader for us,” Soto said. “She’s very tenacious.”
Klaryssa Vela provided a lift for Southside in Game 3. With the Cardinals ahead 20-18, Vela supplied a crosscourt kill, two consecutive aces and another kill on a hustle play. Her efforts brought Southside to game point and the Bulldogs made an error to close it out.
“ Klaryssa worked really hard in the offseason,” Soto said. “Then she ended up stepping up. This is going to be a huge confidence booster for her.”
Southside led Somerset led 16-15 in Game 4, after trailing 9-2. The Bulldogs recovered to force a fifth game after Cierra Patlan (20 kills, 25 digs, 3 blocks) produced a sideout that gave Somerset the lead. The Cardinals fought valiantly, scoring six of the next seven from game point, but Patlan and Lauren Valero (13 kills) had back-to-back points. A Southside hitting error enabled Somerset to close it out, 31-29.
“(Patlan) is a great hitter and a great all-around player,” Soto said. “There are no words to describe her. She’s just a great competitor. We tried to get them out of system to keep the ball away from her, but they always found her.”
Patlan, Somerset coach Norma Patlan’s daughter, was dominant with four kills in Game 5. She scored the match point with a kill on a high, outside set that increased Somerset’s lead to 15-11.
“We were really flat at the start, so we changed up a couple of things,” Somerset coach Norma Patlan said. “We’re just to finish strong and play well. We’re still trying to find the right lineup.”
Against the Cigarroa Toros, Ashley Sanchez turned in an outstanding all-around match with 14 digs, 13 kills, four assists and three aces. Martinez recorded 10 kills, eight digs and four aces. Alyssa Gallardo hustled for 20 assists and 17 digs.
Analee Uriegas had a team-high 18 digs, while Vela (6 assists, 4 kills) chipped in with 12. Brianna Rodriguez added seven digs and three aces. Lisa Casarez had eight assists, eight digs and two aces. Chloe Davis nailed six kills.
The Cardinals will play Sept. 30 at Medina Valley.