Deissy Sauceda, one of the few returners to the Econ charge with any sort of real volley experience, was asked a question before the last regular season summer league game. It was, “How have yawl been doing?”
Her answer, and one must give the senior middle blocker credit for being candid, was, “Not that good…yet.”
That is the name of the game for the Lady Jags this summer, as they seek to replace a slew of Kaylas and some other definite contributors from last year’s playoff contingent. Econ is also without team star Leigha Brown, who is not playing this summer, so it’s tough to get a barometer on the team’s chances for the latest season.
But there were solid efforts Friday night against Weslaco East, a day before the summer tournament was to begin. Econ went to three games, losing the first but dominating the last two to notch the victory, with the steady Sauceda doing her job in the center.
This year’s group will be basically a new crew, with Sauceda and Brown up front and then a bunch of hopefuls trying to prove their point. One of them, feisty Lauren Tijerina, seemed to be at home at libero in the back, hitting some hard backline smashes and firing the team up like former play-starter Kayla Longoria used to do.
Then there was Kenia Gonzalez, long touted as the star of the future. The athletic Gonzalez found the rhythm nicely Friday, rising for some smooth kills, and though she still needs work on the dig, she should be a prominent part of the mix in fall 2011. With the sublime Kayla Silva having used up her eligibility, the play of Gonzalez is a vital part of the puzzle moving forward.
Of the rest of the newcomers, there are some big kids, like junior Anyssa Martinez, and some not-so-bigs, like setter Stephanie Escobedo. By and large, the new faces did well against East, though at times the backline was a bit unorganized and tentative.
Softball star Maddie Rendon got plenty of minutes against East, and basketball girl Blanca Barrientos, sister of Econ star forward John “J.B.” Barrientos, showed flashes of potential.
Econ broke out to a lead in Game One but faltered in execution, allowing East to come from behind and take the victory. But with Rendon starting out on a 6-0 serving streak, the Orange took command in Game Two, with Gonzalez chipping in some pretty, leaping kills to keep the drive going.
Game Three was all Econ, with a sweet block from Sauceda and a deep slap for a kill from Rendon. Gonzalez continued to hit well as the team raced to a 15-4 win, wrapping up the finale with style.
Lefthander Martinez laid down a perfect kill to deep back down the stretch, indicating that while the summer league record has not been superb, the fall promises a competitive, scrappy bunch, like it always is over on the East Side.