By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel High Lady Tarpons volleyball team has won its last two matches against district foes Rio Hondo and Raymondville. Last Saturday in Tarpon Gym they handled Rio Hondo three sets to one by the scores of 25-17, 18-25, 25-22, 25-20. On Tuesday, at Raymondville, Port Isabel won again in four sets, 25-27, 25-17, 25-23, 25-19.
The Lady Tarpons maintain third-place in District 32-4A standings with a 7-3 league record. First-place Zapata remains a perfect 10-0 after Tuesday’s straight sets win over Grulla, and second-place La Feria improved to 9-1 after beating Hidalgo in four sets.
“We came out a little flat that first game (at Raymondville) and … trailed the entire game,” P.I. head coach Julie Breedlove Wednesday. “By the time we got our momentum going we just ran out of points.”
The service game can still be a problem for the team, according to Breedlove. “We had a few more service errors than I would have liked. We want to serve aggressive all the time, but there are also times when we just need to learn to serve a cart of balls.”
Breedlove was referring to a practice drill in which players try to serve a cart-load of balls over the net without a miss.
A win is a win, especially in district play, but the head coach was more pleased with the Raymondville match than the Rio Hondo one. “I thought we played a more solid match all around. Our hitters did a good job. Our blockers did a good job. The Raymondville game was a little bit better than the Rio Hondo game, just because we let a few too many tips and balls drop against Rio Hondo.”
A good effort was required to beat this Raymondville squad, which doesn’t have a winning district record and may not make the playoffs. “They played us really close,” Breedlove said. “They came out ready to play. Raymondville didn’t have anything to lose and we’ve got playoffs on the line. We’ve got something to lose if we don’t play our game.”
Simone Harry led P.I. in kills with 17 in the Raymondville match. Olivia Soliz was next with 15; Soliz also had three blocks and served two aces. Larissa Torres had 21 assists and five digs. Alex Martinez led the team in digs with 11 and Celia Garza had seven digs and four kills. Natasha Ramirez served up four aces and Sabrina Garza had three aces.
In the Rio Hondo match, Simone Harry and Olivia Soliz each had 10 kills and two service aces. Madison Bickerton recorded seven kills and a block. Alex Martinez and Celia Garza each got 10 digs, Michelle Martinez had eight, and Natasha Ramirez six. Harry, Soliz, Ramirez, and Sabrina Garza each served two aces, and Natalie Salinas made 18 assists.
In JV competition the Lady Tarpons topped Rio Hondo 2-0; 26-24, 25-20. At Raymondville they lost in straight sets, 17-25, 23-25. The team is now 8-2 in district play and is second behind Raymondville, who is 9-1.
Four district matches remain to be played, starting with the rematch against Grulla on the road this Saturday. Port Isabel got the Lady Gators in straight sets at home on Sept. 22. The team will be at Hidalgo next Tuesday, the 20th, at home against Progreso on Saturday, the 24th, and will close out the regular season at La Feria on Oct. 27th. The top four teams in the final district standings will qualify for the playoffs.
“(It’s about) trying to get better every game, and trying to peak at just the right time,” Coach Breedlove said. “If we can improve every game we play and do all the little things better, then we’re going to enjoy a good playoff run.”
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