Lyford looks to stay hot

By Kevin Narro, Valley Morning Star

The Lyford Lady Bulldogs are entering a crucial part of their volleyball season as District 32-3A competition gets underway. The Lady Bulldogs, 8-6 overall, are off to a 2-0 start in 32-3A with wins against Pharr Vanguard Academy Rembrandt and Edinburg IDEA Quest. Other 32-3A teams sharing the district lead at 2-0 are Jubilee Brownsville and Santa Rosa.

Lyford next plays at Jubilee at 5 p.m. today.

“It will be a good test for us versus Jubilee,” said Lyford coach Lisa Lancaster, who has taken the Lady Bulldogs to the playoffs during each of her three previous seasons as their coach. “We have to play well. Someone will be 3-0.”

The top two hitters and captains for the Lady Bulldogs are Kayleen May, a senior middle blocker, and Jerrica Rojas, a senior outside hitter. Lyford will be counting on them to have a good match against Jubilee, 14-3 overall, which has beaten Brownsville IDEA Frontier and Vanguard Academy Rembrandt so far in district action. When asked what she likes most about her team, Lancaster said, “We have very good chemistry with our girls playing together. It’s a team of (varsity) returnees from last year mixed with our JV dark (from last season).

They have a chemistry and a dynamic as a team from having been together. They all have known each other for at least two years, so there’s no having to get to know someone new.

“My expectations (for the rest of the season) are that we continue to play our game and that we play the way we’re capable of playing,” Lancaster added.“We want to go back to the playoffs.”

Two seasons ago, the Lady Bulldogs lost to eventual state champion Goliad during the second round of the Class 3A playoffs. Last year, Lyford was edged by Banquete in four games in bi-district.

“We have a good group,” Lancaster said.

YOUNG LADY RAIDERS

The Brownsville Rivera Lady Raiders are used to going to the state playoffs virtually every season.

They look like a pretty strong candidate to go back to the postseason in 2019, although this is one of their youngest teams.

On the Rivera roster there are two freshmen, eight sophomores, three juniors and one senior.

The Lady Raiders are led in hitting by sophomore middle blocker Kenya Ibarra. Another strong hitter is junior Christina Garza.

Just last year, the Lady Raiders went into the playoffs as the third-place team from District 32-6A.

The previous season, which was 2017, Rivera won 32-6A with a 14-0 record as Lady Raiders coach Elizabeth Avelar-Guerra captured her 500th career victory in 25 years at Rivera.

This season, the Lady Raiders are 18-8 and coming off Tuesday’s 25-21, 25-18, 25-14 non-district win at Mercedes. Rivera next plays at home at noon Saturday in a non-district match against Edinburg Economedes.

District 32-6A competition begins for Rivera on the road against city rival Brownsville Hanna on Sept. 21.

“Actually, I thought we’ve been playing very well and we were ready for district until we played Mercedes,” Avelar-Guerra said. “We didn’t play all that well because half the team or more was sick. The girls didn’t play as well as they have been playing.

“I was a little worried, but I also realized that a lot of them were sick and a little bit out of it,” the Rivera coach added. “I’m sure they’ll be all right in a couple of days. At least I hope so.”

SATURDAY SHOWDOWN

One of the more interesting non-district matches on tap at 1 p.m.

Saturday has Brownsville Veterans Memorial (16-6) playing host to Harlingen South (17-3). Both squads have been winning quite a bit lately, including Tuesday when Brownsville Veterans defeated PSJA Memorial and South downed PSJA North.

“My offense is coming through, my defense has been pretty solid and we’re doing well passing-wise, so I’m happy with how we’re playing,” Lady Chargers coach Elizabeth Mares said. “I told the girls that depending on the different teams we face, we’re going to start different lineups, so we need to adjust to that.

Running different lineups is something I’m keying on so we can learn to adjust and work together.”

Brownsville Veterans has another strong test coming up at home at 7 p.m.

Tuesday against Rivera.