WESLACO — It’s a little weird right now, this transition thing. But despite saying that she wants her team to fly under the radar while it finds itself this fall, Deanna Sanchez-Dominguez is cautiously optimistic about where the Lady Bobcats will end up.
“See, I told you, there a lot of new faces,” she said here before Tuesday’s 3-game sweep of Weslaco East. “It’s basically a new team, without Yadi, Jenetta, Lisa, and now Alyssa. We have a lot of youth right now.”
True, graduation robbed the program of several standout seniors, and Alyssa Perez, the awesome libero, is out until mid-September with a heart ailment. Still, there is some serious talent on hand, and EHS has played very well in stretches this year. By the time the replacements round into form, don’t be surprised in the long run to see Sanchez-Dominguez’ youngsters in a position the team has become used to: the playoffs.
“I can’t really explain it,” said the coach later as her group did the “good game, good game” routine after demolishing the Lady Wildcats. “I think they know their capability but they’ve yet to break out of their shell like we want them to. We have a lot of good girls from other sports this year and they have to be more volleyball minded, and get into volleyball shape.”
Sanchez-Dominguez noted that it’s a nice unit to coach.
“They listen, and I really like that,” she began. “They are always looking over to the bench for direction, and they always help each other; the chemistry is good. I hope we’ll be ready for district.”
The Lady ‘Cats were coming off a decent showing at the Valley Spikefest, where they won big early before suffering losses to sub-5A contenders Lyford and La Feria. Against East, though, everything was working, all the time.
The newcomers exhibited their potential from the get-go as rangy Bri Detwiler slammed one hard and true while Anissa Gonzalez, the softball wunderkind, served what would be the first of a handful of aces she had on the night.
It was 12-1 in a blink, as veteran Sarina Rios scored regularly from all angles and middle blocker Roylinda Guerra was solid up front. EHS steamed to a 25-7 win in Game One with little freshman Myranda Hinojosa, sister of another diamond gem (LeeAnne Hinojosa) covering the backline with fine quickness.
With Perez on the shelf, the job as libero falls to Ashley Garcia, and she did a nice job Tuesday in relief. Setter Alice Martinez found Rios for a point on the patented Quik Play made famous by Yadi Salinas and Jenetta Sanchez, and highly touted junior Beckah Rodriguez served well and showed that she is beginning to get the hang of hitting in sync from the outside.
The Lady ‘Cats, with Rodriguez and Guerra holding serve, turned a 7-7 tie into an 18-8 lead, consistently forcing East into errors in the serve-and-volley game. Tori DeLeon, yet another softball stud doing double duty in volleyball, came on to contribute, and Rios threw down a few clever tips for a 25-9 win in Game Two.
Gonzalez was sharp as Game Three began with a nice kill and some bullet serves; the coaches say that once she understands the speed of the varsity game, the strong-legged soph will be one of the team’s standouts. She served seven winners in a row as the visitors ran out to a 12-3 advantage; thus aided, the Lady ‘Cats put the Lady Wildcats to sleep without a murmur.
Rios added another sweet dink and Rodriguez came running up to hammer one home. Detwiler ended it at 25-14 with a powerful hit, and the Lady ‘Cats began to prepare for the P-SJ-A Tournament, which started Thursday.
Sanchez-Dominguez said that District 31-5A is looking rough once again, and that the other city schools are strong this season.
“Celi is such a great coach; she always finds a way to win over there,” she said of Celi Rios-Ortega and the Econ Lady Jags. “And North seems to be really good this year. I just wish we could combine the three schools into one team, you know what I mean?”
NOTES: The Lady ‘Cats suffered a setback over the weekend, dropping matches to P-SJ-A Memorial and Mission Vets, while Econ beat Donna but lost to Rivera. The Lady Jags eventually made it to the consolation finals Saturday before being upended by Rowe.