HARLINGEN — For both Weslaco East and Harlingen South, the District 32-6A season has not gone well thus far.
Both squads entered their match on Tuesday at the Lady Hawks gym 0-5 in league play and both were desperate to snap the losing skid.
When the dust finally settled, it was the Lady Panthers who walked away with hard-fought 25-23, 25-23, 25-14 victory to improve to 1-5 in conference action.
Afterward, head coach Corina Nava couldn’t hold back tears of joy.
“We came in here knowing that we’ve been struggling with our confidence level,” she said. “We had a good pre-district season but come district we fell short and started losing confidence in each other.
“But we had a team meeting yesterday and we revisited our goals, and we finally came together today as a team to get this much-needed win.”
The Lady Panthers did not look like a team that was struggling as they showed spirit and enthusiasm all evening long.
As for the Lady Hawks, who are now 0-6 in league play, they played well and showed plenty of heart, but they also looked tense and it showed in the way they played.
Nevertheless, South fought hard from the start and nearly took Game 1. However, with the set tied at 13-13, East pushed forward and eventually took the game 25-23.
Despite the momentum being on East’s side, the Lady Hawks came out strong in Game 2 and, after a bit of back-and-forth action, took a commanding 15-8 advantage and looked primed to tie the match at 1-1.
However, the Lady Panthers showed tremendous resilience and tied things up at 15-15.
From there, both teams battled with everything they had as the Lady Hawks looked to avoid falling into an 0-2 hole while the Lady Panthers looked to bolster their lead.
With the set tied at 22-22, a big block by South’s Annelle Rodriguez put the Lady Hawks up 23-22 and just two points away from winning the set.
Unfortunately, 23 points was all South could muster as East scored the next three points to take the game and go up 2-0 in the match.
With all the momentum fully on the Lady Panthers’ side, the Lady Hawks came out flat in Game 3 and simply couldn’t match East’s energy as the Lady Panthers took a huge 13-2 lead.
To their credit, the Lady Hawks refused to go down without a fight and managed to get within nine points at 22-13, forcing Nava to call a timeout.
However, the deficit was too much for South to overcome as East got the three points it needed to take the game and match.
“We’ve got a big senior group and I think we finally decided tonight that enough is enough,” said Nava. “Tonight was a confidence builder and now we just have to feed off of this win and move forward.”
The Lady Panthers conclude the first half of district play on Saturday at Brownsville Hanna. Meanwhile, the Lady Hawks are at Brownsville Rivera, also on Saturday.