By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel Lady Tarpons volleyball team took Rio Hondo in four sets on the road Tuesday night in their second district match of the season. They evened their league record at 1-1 after last Saturday’s loss at Zapata.
Port Isabel won the first two games at Rio Hondo, 25-16 and 25-17, before dropping the third one, 20-25, then closing out the match with a 25-15 win in the fourth set.
“The kids came out ready to play,” head coach Julie Breedlove said Wednesday. “Rio Hondo put a good fight on us. We tried to stick with our game plan – we worked on our passing.”
Last Saturday, the team lost its first district match of the season at Zapata, 25-14, 19-25, 19-25, 17-25.
At Zapata we let some balls … and tips drop because we were just slow to get there,” Coach Breedlove said this week. “We were a little bit faster to get there last night and tried to play a little bit more for each other.”
“We played more like a team,” senior libero Alex Martinez said on her way to class Wednesday morning. “We played really well, actually. We were ready for them and we communicated a lot better, too.”
Asked about how well the upper-classmen team members are doing in helping the first-year varsity players along as district play begins, Breedlove said, “The seniors are doing a pretty good job with that. There’s just a lot of positive (action) on the floor and Alex is really good about that.”
“Alex has a view on things that not many of us have because of the position she plays. She’s our most experienced varsity player and she sees a lot of things on the court that the others just are not in the viewpoint to see.”
Breedlove talked up the aforementioned underclassmen players. “Olivia’s (Soliz) really coming around in the middle and starting to gain a lot of confidence. And Madison (Bickerton) – we played her on the right side and were able to get some confidence on her block. We moved her to the middle and she seems to be coming more out of her shell.”
The third sophomore in the group is Carolina Guevara. “Carolina’s doing a really good job coming in and setting for us, and trying to get the job done there. Even Celia (Garza), our freshman, has really picked up. She’s doing a really good job on defense, and she’s one of those kids we can put anywhere and know that she’s going to do her best to help the team out.”
Simone Harry and Olivia Soliz led P.I. with 12 kills each against Rio Hondo, and Harry also led the team with 11 digs. Natalie Salinas recorded 12 assists and Harry served up six aces. Madison Bickerton had five kills and two blocks, and Alex Martinez got eight digs.
Harry also led the team with seven kills against Zapata. Soliz had three blocks. Natalie Salinas led with nine assists, Martinez had 11 digs, and Natasha Ramirez had two service aces.
The Lady Tarpons are at home this Saturday for a match against Raymondville, which is the first of six home matches in the next seven for P.I. RGC-Grulla will call at Tarpon Gym next Tuesday, the 22nd, and the district schedule will play out with matches every Tuesday and Saturday through the final regular-season finale at La Feria on Tuesday, October 27th.
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