South San reaches gold bracket
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Brackenridge, Highlands, Holy Cross, Jefferson, South San, Southwest.
The SAISD Tournament proved to be the perfect ending to an important week of growth for two area teams.
Holy Cross (13-1) claimed the gold pool championship and Southwest (9-7) was the silver pool champion in the 15-team tournament that concluded Aug. 22, Each of them was undefeated in four pool-play matches.
For Holy Cross, it was the second-consecutive tournament title and third in the school’s history. The Knights were undefeated in six tournament matches, losing only a single game. They finished the week with a 12-match winning streak.
“It’s just a new thing coming,” Holy Cross senior setter Anna Zuniga said. “We treat every match (equally). That’s been helping us. We just treat every match as competition and give it our all.”
The top five finishers in the initial round of pool play Aug. 21 earned spots in the gold division, which was contested at the Alamo Convocation Center. South San (7-7) was fifth in the pool.
Southwest won its first championship under new coach Casey Pesek, who coached District 28-6A rival Corpus Christi King last season. The Dragons swept its pool and were 5-1 in the tourney, losing only to gold runner-up McAllen. Southwest also collected two wins earlier in the week.
“The girls are working hard,” Pesek said. “They’re young, but they want to learn and excel.”
In the silver pool at Highlands, Southwest was only taken to three games by runner-up Highlands (9-6). The Dragons pulled it out 25-23, 24-26, 25-16.
Junior Aashlyn Sulaica registered a kill through a block attempt to give the Dragons an 18-5 advantage in Game 1 against Medina Valley. Despite winning 25-9, the second game was an uphill battle. The Panthers’ lead reached 11-7 before Southwest could wrest control away. A kill from Sulaica followed by a block from Jessica Morales were backbreakers in a 25-19 win.
“Our defense is doing a good job,” Pesek said. “Once they get their block set, the defensive lineup is picking it up and it’s great.”
Highlands won won a key three-game match 25-21, 16-25, 25-21 over third-place Southside (7-8).
“They are coming together, but there are a lot of kinks to work out,” first-year Owls coach Desiree Lara said. “They’re adjusting to me and I’m adjusting to them, but they have really good attitudes.”
Holy Cross’ key match was expected to be against McAllen. The Knights won the first game 25-23, then cruised to a 25-13 decision in Game 2. Strong serving from Alyssa Estrada and Daisy Flores staked Holy Cross to leads of 15-5 and 17-5 over Schertz John Paul II in its final match,
“We lost to (McAllen) last year, so we knew we’d need to play well coming in,” Knights coach Ruben Calderon said. “The girls really executed the game plan and the front line did an amazing job.”
South San was the only team to win a game against Holy Cross after achieving its goal of qualifying for the gold pool. The Knights prevailed 25-19, 23-25, 25-15 in a morning match Aug. 22.
“My girls played very well (Aug. 21),” first-year South San coach Evelyn Pineda said. “They were competitive throughout, playing point to point.
“The chemistry is really strong. I like that they communicate very well with each other.”
Brackenridge (5-10) and Jefferson (3-7) each split four games in the bronze pool.