By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
With only four returning starters from last year’s co-district championship team, the 2015 Port Isabel High Lady Tarpons volleyball team is short on experience. The Lady Eagles of Brownsville Hannah came into Tarpon Gym Tuesday night ready to take advantage.
They took the home team in straight sets, 25-19, 25-15, 25-16, in the season-opening match for both squads.
“We still want to work a little more on defense and communication,” Brownsville Hannah head coach Ansgar Hagemann told the Press after the match. “We yielded too many points on that. It’s an experienced team and they will capitalize if another team is rebuilding. We’re always happy to come here because P.I. usually gives us a heck of a game. They’re well coached.”
Amazing plays were made by both sides and clearly the visiting Lady Eagles made more of them than Port Isabel. This is going to be an excellent Lady Tarpon team. It just needs more game action to come together.
“I liked our hustle and, I think, the fact that we never gave up,” head P.I. Coach Julie Breedlove said afterwards. “We fought and the kids never gave up, and they kept on pushing and kept on working.”
The first game was close. After getting behind 6-2 Port Isabel caught up and took an 8-7 lead before going ahead 11-9. Hannah came back to go up 12-11 and led by four before the Lady Tarpons fought back to within one, 19-18. The Lady Eagles scored seven of the last eight points to win the first game, 25-19.
In the second set the Lady Eagles took leads of 12-3 and 15-6 and maintained the margin to win by 10, 25-15. In the third and deciding set Port Isabel fell into a 12-1 hole and could get no closer than nine the rest of the way. The Lady Tarpons did outscore the visitors five-to-one near the end before the Lady Eagles closed out the set and the match with a kill, and that was a final, 25-16.
Passing is the one aspect of their game that Coach Breedlove feels her team most needs to work on. “Our passes were either a little too long or a little too short, not quite on target where we want them to be. Our hitters did a good job. They’re still learning each other.”
Senior and fourth-year varsity player Alex Martinez was a stick of dynamite for P.I. in this first match of the new season and made a number of outstanding plays. “She did an amazing job,” Breedlove said. “I told her (that her) job is to run the back row. Alex is doing a good job training these other (younger) kids … helping them out on where they need to be.”
The Lady Tarpons’ serving game has a new look this year, at least when Simone Harry is back there. She starts her run well back of the line and sends the ball over the net on a hard, flat trajectory while taking a flying leap. She served up an ace in the third game. She’ll get a lot more before the season is over.
“She’s using a jump serve and, right now, still trying to get the technique down,” Breedlove said. “That’s one of the other things we want to do – serve aggressively.”
Port Isabel will play in this weekend’s three-day McHigh Poundfest Tournament in McAllen, starting Thursday. Next week they will host the Volley at the Beach tournament in Tarpon Gym. That one will also go for three days, starting Thursday, August 20. After that the Lady Tarpons will be at home for their next two matches. Brownsville Pace will visit Tarpon Gym on Tuesday, August 25, and Harlingen will come in for a match on Saturday, the 29th.
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