By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel Lady Tarpons volleyball team took down the Lady Gators of Grulla in straight sets Tuesday night in Tarpon Gym. They won 25-18, 28-26, 25-14, and improve to 3-1 in district play.
“Our kids played really well today,” head coach Julie Breedlove said after the match. “We were solid all the way around. Our front row is really coming around. I’ve been really proud of the effort the girls have put in.”
Last Saturday, also in Tarpon Gym, P.I. beat Raymondville in straight sets, 26-24, 25-15, 25-16.
The Lady Tarpons led almost all the way through. They led 5-0 and 8-3 in the first game before Grulla came back to briefly lead, 13-12. P.I. trailed 5-2 and 6-4 in the second set, which remained close the rest of the way. In the third set Port Isabel jumped in front 9-2 and prevented the Lady Gators from getting any closer than three points after that. The home team scored seven of the last nine points to take the set and the match, 25-14.
Picking up opposing tips at the net is a problem for any team and this one has made progress in that department. “We were moving a little bit more to the ball,” Breedlove said about the Grulla match. “We let a couple of deep ones get us but overall, on the tipping game, we’re starting to cover those a lot better.”
“They kept fighting all the way,” Celia Garza, the varsity’s only freshman player, said afterwards. “But we kept on fighting and we were the better team.”
On-court communication is another important aspect of the game. “They’re improving on the communication since that first game,” Breedlove told the Press Tuesday night. “We really had to sit down and talk about talking with each other and really being there for each other.”
Port Isabel won the JV match, 2-1, by the scores of 11-25, 25-20, 25-20. Wendy Marin led the Lady Tarpons in kills with six, and Sky Young had five kills and five aces on serves. Tylynn Jee served up four aces. The team improves to 3-1 in district play.
Grulla won the freshman match 2-1, 25-10, 22-25, 13-25.
The varsity team does not lack for players and Breedlove is happy with the kind of bench she has. “We’ve got to have a solid bench – making sure that any kid we pull off (the bench) can come in and make a difference. They showed a lot of enthusiasm today. I was real proud of them. I thought they did a good job today.”
“They’re (the bench players) just as important as any starter on the court. We’ve got to keep them involved in the game and keep them happy.”
Against Grulla, Simone Harry led the team with eight kills and she had three digs. Olivia Soliz had three blocks and three kills and Natasha Ramirez led with three aces. Alex Martinez and Michelle Martinez each had five digs in the match and Natasha Ramirez had three. Natalie Salinas led with 12 assists and Larissa Torres had four. Karina Vela got five kills and she and Salinas each served up two aces.
In the Raymondville match Simone Harry had 13 kills and served four aces. Karina Vela led the Lady Tarpons with five service aces and five digs and Larissa Torres had the most assists with 13. Madison Bickerton and Olivia Soliz each had six kills and Bickerton recorded a block.
The Lady Tarpons will be at home this Saturday for a match with Hidalgo, then will hit the road for a match against Progreso next Tuesday, the 29th. The team will be at home for the ensuing three matches, starting with La Feria on Saturday, Oct. 3. This Saturday’s JV Dark and Freshmen matches will commence at noon, and the JV Light and Varsity matches will follow at 1 p.m.
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