BY CLAIRE CRUZ |
RAYMONDVILLE — If Raymondville senior Diandra Saenz wanted her birthday to be special, she sure made her wish come true on Tuesday night.
In the Lady Kats’ season opener against IDEA Frontier, Saenz led her team to a 3-0 victory and made history in the process.
She went to the service line with the Lady Kats up 3-2 in the first set and proceeded to serve the next 20 points – breaking the previous school record of 18 serves in one set – before a teammate’s hit went long and ended her impressive run.
Despite the personal achievement, the only thing on Saenz’s mind was her team victory.
“I’m just trying to win for my team,” Saenz said. “I just go out there and do what I do. It’s very encouraging for my team… it’s good to get momentum going.”
Set two, however, was a different ordeal. Hustle plays from both teams kept rallies long and the set close through the first 20 points.
But Frontier’s back row struggled to pick up the well-hit Lady Kats’ attacks and forced too many Lady Chargers plays to end with a free ball. The Raymondville offense took advantage of those errors and delivered some big hits behind precise sets from setters Claudia Mesa and Iscela Bazaldua.
“Those are my two captains, they’ve been playing together forever and they know each other so well,” Raymondville head coach Norma Rodriguez said. “They hold my team together and I’m very proud of them.”
The third set started with the teams exchanging scoring runs, but the youth of the Lady Chargers showed down the stretch and they were unable to pull out a set.
Frontier head coach Cassandra Hinojosa was encouraged by the way her team – which only has three returning varsity players from last season – bounced back from the first set blowout.
“I told them, ‘shake off that first one and we’re going to have to go back and fight,’” Hinojosa said. “We’re a young team. Fighting as in talking wise, as in cheering each other on. I told them that’s their main goal. That’s the fight that we had today.”