HARLINGEN — Not much went Harlingen High’s way Tuesday night, as the Lady Cardinals slugged their way through a home sweep at the hands of the Edcouch-Elsa Lady Jackets 25-19, 25-22, and 25-13.
Harlingen High volleyball coach Joslynn Torres said her team, and in particular her four seniors, turned in an uncharacteristically poor performance.
“I’ve never seen my team play like this tonight,” Torres said. “That was not my team on the floor today.”
Torres also said that while her seven newcomers were not adjusted yet to the pace of the varsity level, that the lack of experience to this point “was no excuse.”
Of those younger players, freshman outside hitter Juli Bryant again carried most of the load offensively for the Lady Cardinals. After dropping the first game, Harlingen High quickly found itself down 5-0 and trailed 19-12 late in Game 2.
Then Bryant narrowed the margin to three at 19-16 with a kill. She came up big again with a loud block on Vida Ybarra, following that up with another kill to bring the score to 22-19. The Lady Cardinals were able to narrow the gap to 23-22, the closest the team came to an equalizer down the stretch.
Game 3 did not start out much better, as Harlingen High fell into a 13-4 hole that eventually became a 19-10 deficit.
“In situations like these, when we put ourselves in a hole, I expect my returners to pick it up,” Torres said. “I expect my returners to turn it around for me. And that did not happen.”
The heavy hitters in Edcouch-Elsa’s front row– Veronica Elizondo, Sarah Flores, and Meagan Acevedo – dominated play near the net.
Harlingen High also had a difficult time adjusting to the Lady Jackets’ unpredictable passing, which set up their hitters with good looks.
Torres exhausted her substitutions and was limited by a lengthy rotation that kept Bryant off the floor during a critical stretch of seven points, which made Tuesday night’s contest all the more frustrating to watch for her and Harlingen High.
Other than Bryant, bright spots for the Lady Cardinals were Callie Cervantes’ energy, diving to make several digs that helped extended plays. Gabriela Sema also showcased her ability to hit the ball hard above the net on sets from Elena Aguinaga. But Torres said her team needs to step up collectively to take the burden off of their freshman star.
“We commended (Bryant) in the locker room,” Torres said. “The last games she played were in eighth volleyball, and she was the one to bring the spark once again. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Lady Cardinals are next slated to play Raymondville at 11 a.m. Saturday at Cano Freshman Academy.