Lady Raiders fend off Lady Cards’ rally

HARLINGEN — District 32-6A just got a whole lot more interesting. Brownsville Rivera continued its midseason surge with a thrilling win in five sets over Harlingen High. The win wasn’t an easy one as the Lady Raiders held off a furious comeback from the Lady Cards, who dropped the first two sets, forced a fifth set and ultimately lost 25-19, 25-16, 12-25, 18-25, 15-13 on Tuesday night in Harlingen.

Rivera took a late 13-12 lead during the fifth set and managed to score the final two points, with the game-winning kill coming from Madalaine Blanco.

“It was such a great match,” Rivera coach Elizabeth Avelar-Guerra said. “The girls really stepped up tonight, and I told them coming into tonight’s match, ‘This is it. We all have to play as a team or it’s over.’ Both teams played their hearts out. It was awesome to see how the girls came together and played as a team.”

Tuesday night’s win is the biggest win of the season so far for the Lady Raiders, who at 2-3 in district play are now in the fourth spot in 32-6A play with San Benito, though the Lady ‘Hounds hold the tiebreaker with a win against Rivera earlier this season.

Rivera next sets its sights on crosstown rival Brownsville Hanna, which is 4-1. Meanwhile, Harlingen High falls to 1-4 and will plays host to San Benito on Saturday.

“We needed this win, we really did,” Avelar-Guerra said. “The girls needed a win under their belt to get things going into the second half.”

During the first two sets, Rivera asserted its dominance and jumped out to big leads in each game. Freshman hitter, Kenya Ibarra was a force all night, finishing with a team-high 22 kills. Teammate Kourtney Shears had herself a night with 10 kills, 27 assists and 13 digs. Harlingen High, meanwhile, shook off a rusty start and managed to swing the momentum back in its favor with wins during the third and fourth sets. For the third time in district play, the Lady Cardinals found themselves in a fiveset duel.

Senior Taegan Dickey carried the Lady Cards’ offense with a team-high 17 kills. Desiree Sanchez finished with eight kills, and Gabriella Serna finished with eight kills and seven blocks. “It was such a back-andfourth game, (Harlingen High) kept picking everything up, and in the middle sets they made some adjustments and started blocking (Ibarra), and I told her we needed to get around the blocks, but we both played well. Kenya is my big hitter, and I told the girls we needed to take advantage when Kenya is in the front, and we were able to adjust and come out with a win.” Avelar-Guerra said.