By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
Port Isabel won by scores of 25-11, 25-15, and 25-21. The Lady Tarpons conclude the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record in district play and 22-13 overall. As district champions, they receive a first-round bye for the playoffs. District certification takes place this Saturday, and at that time head volleyball coach George Hamilton will know more about whom their first playoff opponent will be and where the match will be played.
“We have a first-round bye and it looks like we’ll play the winner of the Ingleside-Hondo match,” Coach Hamilton said after the match. Ingleside competes in District 30-3A and Hondo plays in District 29-5A. They will face off next Tuesday, October 30.
It’s a payoff for Hamilton as well. This is the head coach’s first district title in his five years as the head coach of the Lady Tarpons.
Hidalgo finishes the regular season at 6-2 in district, 13-9 overall. As the second-place team in District 32-3A, the Lady Pirates have also made the playoffs.
In the first match against Hidalgo on October 6, the Lady Tarpons also won in straight sets and Hamilton thought his team looked better this time around. “We just kept the ball in play and didn’t have as many …errors this time. I think we just overpowered them, which we felt should be our game plan.”
Some of the overpowering was done by outside hitters Helena Loya and Kate Bowles. Loya led the team with a match-high 19 kills and Bowles had seven with nine digs.
“It feels really good,” Loya, a senior, said after the match. “I just like to hit as hard as I can.”
Sophomore, and first-year varsity squad member Kiersten Steirs was also happy. She said, “It feels really awesome for everybody to pull together.” And this time around, it was a different kind of match with Hidalgo, according to Steirs. “We were trying to prepare for playoffs and they were stronger this time,” she added.
Another strength for this year’s team is serving. “Even before the game their coach was…concerned about handling our serves,” Hamilton said. “And they were talking about Kelcie, because she had about 12 aces at their place.”
Port Isabel served up a total of 13 aces this time. Kelcie Swink, Helena Loya, and Wynona Garza each had three aces, Sophie Meisel had two, and Bowles and Loya each served one. Bowles, Gabby Torres, and Cecily Niles each had a block, and Daniela Salinas led the team with 27 assists.
“We’re happy to get it (District 32-3A title) but now we’re looking to be area champions,” Hamilton said. “We want to be the first PI volleyball team to get past the area round.”
The Ladies will have a pre-playoff warm-up game on Friday, October 26, at 4:30 p.m. at the Port Isabel fieldhouse against the Lady Falcons of Los Fresnos.
Read this story in the Oct. 25 edition of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.