Lady Raiders win fifth straight, sweep Lady Cardinals

HARLINGEN — Winning a road game in District 32-6A is not an easy task, but Brownsville Rivera was up for the challenge.

The Lady Raiders went into the Harlingen High gym and completed a sweep in convincing fashion 25-21, 25-15, 25-23.

“I told the girls yesterday at practice that Harlingen is a very good team and we’re a good team, and we needed to fight for every point. I told them they needed to be ready and not give in because if we gave in we’d lose it,” said Rivera coach Elizabeth Avelar-Guerra.

“The girls played very smart. They moved the ball around and our defense tonight was on point. They got to the ball and played well.”

Entering Tuesday’s match, both Harlingen and Rivera entered as two of the hottest teams. The Lady Raiders are now on a five-game win streak and are 9-1 in their last 10 games. Rivera improved to 2-0 in league play and will meet San Benito on Saturday. Meanwhile Harlingen (1-1) will look to rebound versus Weslaco High.

The tone was set in the first set with Rivera roaring out to a 12-6 early lead. Stephanie Garza led the offense with 11 kills and seven digs. Rivera controlled the rest of the match with a smooth defense and an aggressive attack on offense.

Both the second and third set where a mirror image of the first. In the second set, junior libero Madeline Blanco was on full display. Blanco finished with a team-high 29 digs and three aces. On more than one occasion Blanco displayed her athleticism by diving for a dig and getting back up and keeping the offense alive.

In the third set, Harlingen trailed 22-18 but rallied late and cut the score to 23-21. Through the three sets Harlingen never held a lead. Rivera managed to finish what they started in the third set and walked away with the sweep.

“She (Blanco) is awesome,” said Avelar-Guerra. “She has a great mind for the game and is always focused during the games. She moves around, controls the back and talk to the girls. She never gives up and when we’re losing she always motivates the girls and, wow, she is just always around the ball.”

Litzy Medina finished with five kills and nine digs while teammate Kourtney Shears collected three kills and seven digs.