VOLLEYBALL: Brack comeback qualifies Eagles for postseason

Brackenridge's Eshe Malone hits in a previous match.

Jefferson upsets Highlands to qualify

Brackenridge's Eshe Malone hits in a previous match.

Brackenridge’s Eshe Malone hits in a previous match.


























AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Brackenridge, Jefferson.



Two teams seeking the same goal battled to the brink Tuesday at Alamo Convocation Center.

It became clear in the early stages of the match that mental toughness was going to be paramount. Jefferson was two points from closing out a victory in Game 5 when Brackenridge (14-23, 10-5) made the final push that resulted in a 26-24, 18-25, 25-20, 13-25, 15-13 win.

“The key for our team was consistency,” Brackenridge coach Chandra Kerley said. “We had to score more points, not give them away. I told them to focus on one point at a time.

“I told them, ‘They want to take that third-place position from you.’ ”

Both teams want to hold their ground and not fall to fourth place because that would pit them powerhouse Alamo Heights, which leads District 27-SA and is No. 2 in the Express-News area rankings, in the bi-district round. The win Tuesday gave the Eagles a temporary hold on third place.

“I’m very happy with this victory,” Kerley said. “This puts us in great position.”

However, Friday while Brackenridge was idle, Jefferson (25-9, 10-5) upset second-place Highlands (24-11, 12-2) on the same court to forge a third-place tie. McCollum (23-8, 15-0) clinched the district championship Oct. 21.

“We took advantage of every opportunity we had to pass, set and hit,” Jefferson coach Theresa Ralston said of the Highlands match. “The girls are really excited for the end of the season. That was a well-deserved and hard-fought victory.”

Brackenridge qualified for its eighth consecutive playoff appearance. Jefferson advanced for the sixth time I n the last seven seasons under Ralston.

The Eagles ended the 28-5A season 4:30 p.m. Tuesday against Highlands at the Alamo Convocation Center. The Mustangs will finish against sixth-place Edison (14-23, 6-9) in an 8 p.m. match at the ACC.

They are two of the area’s 10 current playoff qualifiers. Others are: Brooks Academy, East Central (23-15, 9-0), Highlands, Holy Cross, McCollum, Providence, Southside (18-15, 8-5) and Southwest (20-16, 5-4). East Central clinched the District 28-6A championship.

South San (17-19, 3-6) also had a chance to qualify, depending on the outcome of its final match Tuesday at East Central. The Bobcats are tied for fourth in 28-6A with Corpus Christi Ray.

Brackenridge qualified for its eighth consecutive playoff appearance. Jefferson advanced for the sixth time I n the last seven seasons under Ralston.

After tying the match in Game 4,Jefferson senior Gabby Vasquez produced five of her match-high 21 kills to stake the Mustangs to a 13-9 lead in the final game.

“We had them in every game,” Ralston said, “but we couldn’t maintain our momentum and energy to close it out.”

Eagles senior Jolicia Shelton-Brown (9 kills) landed a tip that slashed Jefferson’s lead to three points. Then the Mustangs made three consecutive errors. Shelton-Brown finished a long point with a kill to secure the win.

“It means a lot to me, being a senior,” she said. “I’m very proud of the girls. We’ve come a long way from where we started out. We need to push on.”

Vasquez, who also had 21 kills Oct. 17 against Young Women’s Leadership Academy, made two consecutive kills early in Game 2, helping the Mustangs reverse Brackenridge’s momentum. Jefferson setter Angela Hardcastle (26 assists, 2 aces, 2 blocks) called increasingly on the senior leader down the stretch.

“I think she realized how important this match was,” Ralston said. “We need to find her when she’s ‘on.’ She wants that challenge and her teammates try to find her.”

Vasquez put down a kill on a high, outside set to finish Game 4. She added two straight kills in Game 5 that helped the Mustangs grab a 4-1 advantage in the 15-point format. A block from Hardcastle and Vasquez’s 20th kill extended the lead to 11-8.

“(Kerley) made us get our heads in the game,” Shelton-Brown said. “We just fought.”

Jasmin Gutierrez made seven blocks for the Eagles. Senior Kathy Sifuentes finished with six digs.

“It means a lot to me, being a senior,” Shelton-Brown said. “I’m very proud of the girls. We’ve come a long way from where we started out. We need to push on.”

Cecilia Campos recorded an amazing 59 digs for the Mustangs. Marisol Montejano also made two blocks. Madelyn Chavez served a pair of aces.

For Jefferson, Campos had team bests of 37 digs and three aces. Vasquez recorded 13 kills. Hardcastle added 13 assists.

“I thought we communicated better,” Ralston said. “We had a better chemistry and worked better together all the way around.”

Highlands received eight kills from Jazmine Jackson, 21 digs from Kiara Pesina and nine assists from Analisa Garza.

About Mike Considine (1619 Articles)
I started this blog as an extension of the sports stories I've been doing as an independent contractor for the Southside Reporter the past 12 years. I've been a sportswriter for more than 35 years, including two stints with the late, lamented San Antonio Light. My purpose, in creating this blog, is to shine a light on the athletic achievements of teams and athletes on the south side of San Antonio.

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