By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
This 2015 edition of the Port Isabel High Lady Tarpons volleyball team has a good mixture of upper and lower-classmen players. Actually, 75 percent of this squad of 16 members is made up of upperclassmen, but the three sophomores and a single freshman that fill out the roster have very much become contributing parts of the whole.
“These girls want to win and they’re going to do what they have to do to get that win,” Port Isabel head volleyball coach Julie Breedlove said this week. “They’re going to work hard and they’re going to push themselves.”
Celia Garza is the team’s only freshman and she admitted to some early-season jitters. “At first it was very nerve-wracking and very fast-paced. It was a whole different pace for me because I went straight to JV and then they moved me up to varsity.”
“Celia’s one of those little ones that come in and she wants the ball,” Coach Breedlove said Tuesday. “If you hit the ball at her and she shanks it, she’s going to say, ‘Come at me again because this time I’m going to get it.’ It’s nice to have that on the court and she’s that kind of kid.”
Sophomores Olivia Soliz and Madison Bickerton form the center of the team’s ‘Tall Girls’ front line. “We ran her (Madison) off the right side for a while – wanted her to get used to the blocking. Her hitting wasn’t quite coming around but, since she’s been in the middle, she’s hitting a whole lot better. A lot of that is the confidence in … knowing that she can hang with these other kids.”
“I feel like I’m getting more confidence as the season goes on,” Bickerton said. “In the beginning I was a little shy because we were the sophomores – we were the youngest ones. Of course, we all play together as a team, so I’ve gotten to know them as teammates. And a lot of them are my friends, too.”
Olivia Soliz seems to be constantly improving. “Olivia, every game she plays, gets a little bit better,” Breedlove said. “She’s really been working hard and improving. She’s always asking questions; ‘What can I do different, what can I do better?’ She’s really made a turn-around in her play.”
“Once I got on the court it was hard at first, because I didn’t know most of the girls,” Soliz told the Press. “But once we bonded and (began to) work as a team, it became a lot easier to push ourselves to the next level.”
Soliz gives full credit to the upper-classmen for helping her along in this, her first full season as a varsity player. “The upperclassmen have made (us) more confident in ourselves. I was intimidated to get on the court with all those girls. They really taught us how to play as a team, how to work together.”
The third sophomore in this group is Carolina Guevara and she is one of those bench players who is ready to go in at a moment’s notice. “She’s coming in off the bench as one of our setters, and we’re able to pull her right off the bench and hardly miss a beat. She’s doing a really good job of coming off the bench … giving the other girls some rest. She’s a good server and she plays good defense.”
“I love my team, the way we bond,” Guevara said this week. “When we practice, of course, we have fun, but at the same time we do what we have to do. It just all collects together.”
The group’s next chance to get better and come together even more under game conditions will be this Saturday, when the Hidalgo Lady Pirates will visit Tarpon Gym for this Saturday’s afternoon matches.
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