DONNA —Winning the DonnaTournament on Saturday said a lot about the character, determination and resilience of the Harlingen South volleyball team.
It also said quite a bit about the competitiveness of runner-up Edcouch-Elsa. The teams in Saturday’s title match battled evenly most of the way and brought out the best in each other to make it a final to remember.
South prevailed over E-E 25-16, 28-30, 15-13 to increase its record to 8-0.
The Lady Yellowjackets are 5-2 after the tournament.
While the Lady Hawks at one point early on may have thought the final would a relatively easy twoset sweep after taking the first game handily, the Lady Yellowjackets were just getting warmed up and soon gave the South girls all the match they wanted.
“It was a very tough match,” said the Lady Hawks’ Mikela Mireles, a senior 5-foot-9 hitter/back row player who was named tournament MVP. “They tested us, and we really hadn’t been tested before.
I’m super proud of my team and how we finished strong to get the win.
“Winning this tournament definitely gives a lot more confidence than what we had before,” added Mireles, who led her team with 19 kills to go with 19 digs and two blocks. “This just puts another championship on our backs as we go further into the season.
“It was a defensive match and also a match of errors, because whoever made the least amount of errors was going to be the team to win, and I guess that was us. We were the ones to come out on top. I’m just super proud of my team. We had one of our players out with an injury. I’m proud of how we played without her.”
South setter Mya Pearl Aguirre, an all-district performer from last season, sat out most of the tournament with an ankle injury and is expected to possibly return as soon as Tuesday when South plays a non-district match at Sharyland High.
Prior to the start of the UIL season Aug. 1, the South girls won the Highway 83 Summer League championship.
South coach Anissa Lucio said the Lady Yellowjackets are a difficult opponent to go against.
“We knew Edcouch-Elsa is a great ball-control team,” Lucio said. “We knew that we were going to have to earn our points. It was a tough, exhausting match. I’m really proud of our girls.
“Without Mya, who was hurt Thursday, it’s hard,” Lucio added. “I’m very pleased with how the girls stepped up. They adapted to the changes in the lineup we made.
“Winning this tournament is huge for our team. This is something our girls have always wanted and worked for all offseason. This is a very special group, and they deserve this.”
Earlier Saturday, to get to the final, South defeated Brownsville Jubilee 25-18, 25-18 in the quarterfinals and Mission High 25-15, 25-20 in the semifinals.
E-E defeated San Benito 25-12, 25-13 in the quarterfinals and Laredo Martin 25-16, 25-16 in the semifinals.
“We lost two amazing players (to graduation) last year, so trying to replace those two has been kind of a challenge for us,” said E-E coach Gloria Trevino, whose Lady Yellowjackets won District 32-5A one season ago. “The thing with my team is these girls are real versatile. Each and every one of them can play setter or middle hitter or outside hitter.
“We had one player go down (with an injury late during the second game), so that kind of threw off our momentum,” Trevino added. “I’m looking forward to us having a successful season this year.
“We took second at this tournament last year (losing to San Benito in the final). It makes our girls that much stronger and makes them want to win the next tournament even more.”
After South pretty much breezed to a nine-point victory, 25-16, during the first game of Saturday’s final, the second set became an all-out, backand- forth clash with 15 ties.
A block by Mireles brought the Lady Hawks into a tie at 28, the last deadlock of the game. From there, E-E’s Meagan Acevedo recorded a kill to give her team a 29-28 advantage. E-E won the second game 30-28 on a block by Vida Ybarra.
Then it was on to the third and deciding game. There were five ties, the last of which came at 12. Earlier in the game, South led 8-4 and 10-5, but E-E didn’t go away. A block by South’s Odemarys Vidana gave the Lady Hawks the lead forgood at 13-12. Each team then traded a point on hits that went out. With the score 14-13 for the Lady Hawks, the Lady Yelowjackets couldn’t pick up Mireles’ tip and the South girls could start celebrating their hardfought 15-13 win during the third game.
Other stats for South included Alexa Encina with 24 assists, 13 digs; Allyah Guevara with nine kills, 10 digs; Zoe Garcia with 51 digs, six assists; Evelyn Yanez with 65 digs; Mia Zamorano with 27 digs; Vidana with two kills, three blocks; and Korynne Reininger with two kills, five digs and three blocks