Lady Cardinals force play-in game with win over San Benito

HARLINGEN — The Harlingen Lady Cardinals season was on the line Tuesday night against San Benito. Harlingen needed a win to force a play-in game against Brownsville Hanna, which beat Weslaco East earlier.

Big Red delivered with strong performances from Taegan Dickey and Yazmine Martinez.

“The girls knew it was do or die tonight,” said Harlingen coach Joslynn Torres. “After Game 4 I told the girls to give it everything they had because I wanted them to make themselves known, and they played their hearts out and I’m proud. They played with confidence and it showed tonight.”

Harlingen prevailed in five sets 25-19, 12-25, 26-24, 13-25,15-7. With the win the Lady Cards force a play-in game against Hanna with the time and place still to be decided. The Lady Cards and Lady Eagles finished with 8-6 records and split the sea-son series. The winner of the match will advance to the playoffs as the No. 4 seed while the loser will be done for the season.

On Tuesday, the Lady Cards got out in front by taking a 2-1 match lead, but the Lady Hounds made the night difficult for the Lady Cards with a strong Game 4 win.

The loss did not hurt the Lady Hounds as they had already clinched the third seed in the upcoming playoffs and will likely play Edinburg Vela in the first round round.

Entering the fifth set, the Lady Cards’ backs were against the wall as they hadn’t won a fifth game since a non-district win against McAllen High earlier this season. In past matches, Harlingen tended to fall behind early, but that wasn’t the case Tuesday night.

“Our backs were against the wall and it was important for us to come out strong from the start,” Torres said. “We played neck and neck with San Benito and we got it done, and now we have to keep fighting when we play Hanna. We took a good step forward tonight and we’re excited to get a chance to play Hanna again.”

Feeding off the emotions and home crowd, Harlingen raced out to a 9-4 lead and didn’t look back from there. The offense was led by Martinez’s 22-kill, 20-dig performance. Dickey contributed with 11 kills, Kirsten Kattan notched 14 kills and 15 digs while Alina Prado finished with 44 assists.

“Heading into Game 5 we didn’t want it to be our last game,” said Dickey. “We wanted to keep playing and we left everything on the court tonight. I knew we needed to win. It means so much for our seniors and I wanted to do everything we could to win. I got emotional because I’m going to miss them, they’re my best friends. Games like this prepare us for the big games and in Game 5 it all came together.”