VOLLEYBALL: Holy Cross completes mission, defends Harlandale ISD title

McCollum edges Indians for third

AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Brackenridge, Harlandale, Holy Cross, McCollum, Providence, South San.



A year earlier, it was an historic achievement. The encore was an expectation, at least within Holy Cross’ volleyball team.

“It was one of our goals,” Holy Cross senior Victoria Gonzalez said. “The challenge was definitely to come back with the championship.”

The Knights repeated their Harlandale ISD Tournament success Aug. 15. Holy Cross (5-1) won its second-consecutive championship, defeating Stevens 25-15, 25-19 in the final match at McCollum.

“I feel like we’re off to a strong start,” said Holy Cross junior Henrianna Ibarra, the tourney most valuable player. “Our seniors, Victoria and Anna (Zuniga), have pushed us to be where we are right now.”

Holy Cross never had won a tournament championship prior to the 2014 season. This year, the Knights return many of the same players but have added newcomers that include sophomore Aiyana Miller, Southside transfer Analee Uriegas and former Southwest middle blocker Brie-Anna Armstrong.

“I feel like Brie and Aiyana are like the missing pieces to the puzzle,” Gonzalez said.

Both semifinals were close, with the Knights edging Harlandale (4-3) 25-19, 27-26 and Stevens (5-2) escaping 15-25, 25-23, 25-23 against McCollum (4-3). On their home floor, the Cowboys pulled out a 26-24, 25-23 victory over rival Harlandale in the third-place match.

“We did a good job of bringing our game and being able to close it out,” McCollum coach Rose Ann Martinez said. “We competed two freshmen because it was a big match and we want them to be ready later on. I told them it didn’t matter if we won or lost, I wanted to see them getting better – and they did”

Harlandale tied it 21-21 – the sixth deadlock in the match – but Cowboys junior Victoria Yzaguirre executed a block and Miranda Rich served an ace to break the logjam. Yzaguirre also had a kill on match point.

The Indians opened the season with a three-game loss to Holy Cross Aug. 10, but bounced back 48 hours later to defeat Stevens in five. Like McCollum and the Knights, they swept three matches on Aug. 14.

“The first game we were really inconsistent,” Harlandale coach Sylvia Cardenas said. “The second game was point-to-point. We just made some errors at the end, but every match we’re getting better.”

Among other area teams in the tournament, South San (4-2) only lost two matches, but both were to Holmes. The Huskies won 25-12, 25-15 in a consolation-bracket contest. Brackenridge (3-5) and Providence (4-2) each won two matches.

Holy Cross won its each of its four Aug. 14 games by at least 11 points, defeating Holmes and Sam Houston.

After cruising through the first game against Stevens with Ibarra and Armstrong delivering key blocks, the Falcons established a 7-1 lead in Game 2. The teams were tied 18-18 when the Knights seized control behind a kill and block from Armstrong, along with an ace from Gonzalez. Ibarra and Zuniga combined for a block that put them at match point.

“In the second set, we made too many mistakes,” Holy Cross coach Ruben Calderon said, “but Brie-Anna made a couple of blocks that changed the momentum. Our blocking has definitely been a big help.”

Harlandale was the only team to threaten the Knights. Against McCollum, an ace from junior Kianna Sandoval launched a five-point service run that provided a 15-10 Indians lead.

“This (tough competition) is going to be good for them,” Cardenas said.

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