East Central records third sweep against Southwest
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: East Central, South San, Southwest.
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Despite an up-and-down non-district season, East Central still seems like the best bet to rise to the top of the District 28-6A standings when all the returns are in.
Three matches into the 28-6A season, the Hornets (17-15, 3-0) have only reinforced that status. They remained undefeated halfway through the first round of district play after defeating Southwest (16-14, 1-2) 25-15, 25-20, 25-18 Sept. 30 and Corpus Christi Ray (17-12, 1-2) 25-11, 25-13, 25-14 Oct. 3 in Corpus Christi.
East Central has the talent and experience necessary to maintain the district lead it shares with Corpus Christi King, whom the Hornets play host to Tuesday at 7 p.m. The mission is to refine its game to see it through and prepare for the postseason.
That’s the unfinished business the message on the back of its team t-shirts refers to.
“It helped our intensity,” East Central coach Todd Dorgan said of the murderous non-district schedule he purposely assembled. “We’ve played the top teams, so the girls see the big picture and know what it’s going to take to succeed.”
Winning each of the three 28-6A matches in straight sets is an indication that the Hornets are establishing the consistency they lacked earlier in the season.
“We’re playing well,” East Central senior outside hitter Madison Simon said. “We’ve played some really good teams this year, and that’s helped. I’m really pumped for district.”
Against Southwest at East Central, Simon got the Hornets rolling by supplying six kills in Game 1. The Dragons never were closer than six points after East Central built a 9-1 lead.
In Game 2, Southwest established a 4-2 lead at the outset on a block from senior Kassy Cruz and a Hornets hitting errror. The Hornets surged to tie it 8-8 on a block from Christie Cosper and gained the lead with a four-point service run. Senior Alex Pena served an ace that gave East Central a 17-11 advantage.
The Dragons crept within 17-14 on an ace from sophomore Aashlyn Sulaicia, but the Hornets rallied again. The tipping point was a kill from senior Nichole West to finish a long point, followed by a powerful kill from 6-foot-3 Lindsey Lubianski.
An ace from senior Yasmine Garcia and two kills from Sulaica enabled Southwest to lead 10-7 in Game 3, but the Hornets’ blocking and good ball distribution stole the Dragons’ momentum. West manufactured a five-point service run that culminated with an ace and extended East Central’s lead to 20-13.
Lubianski provided three kills and two blocks in the game.
“We had a lot of unforced errors,” Southwest coach Erin Morgal said. “It happened way too much. We were not ready on serve-receive. We’ll need to figure that out against South San.”
The Dragons defeated South San (15-15, 1-2) 22-25, 22-25, 25-19, 25-21, 15-13 Oct. 3 for their first district win.
Sulaica led Southwest with 20 kills and Cruz added 12. Angie Aguilar distributed 27 assists. Brandy Martinez contributed 31 digs and Zoe Marin had 22. Cruz and Lindsey Calderon each produced two blocks.
For South San, Erica Jimenez dealt 31 assists. Lauren Estrada (2 aces) picked up a team-high 12 kills. Giselle Mata (2 aces) and Bethany Flores (2 blocks) chipped in with seven kills apiece for the Bobcats. Kaitlyn Cerna had a match-best three blocks. Kristen Farias (2 aces) made 12 digs and Mariah Gonzalez had seven.