Lady Raiders roll past Lady Cardinals

Rivera Lady Raider Christina Garza (8) spikes the ball against Harlingen Lady Cardinals Tuesday evening in Brownsville.

BROWNSVILLE — The anticipated back-and-forth drama and non-stop intensity never quite materialized during Tuesday’s District 32-6A volleyball match between Brownsville Rivera and Harlingen High at the Lady Raiders’ gym.

The main reason it didn’t was that Rivera came out on fire during the opening two games, and by the time the Lady Cardinals found their composure in the third set, it was pretty much too late.

Rivera won the match 25-8, 25-12, 26-24 to end the first round of district with a 4-1 record. Harlingen High slipped to 2-3.

Los Fresnos leads 32-6A with a 5-0 record after Tuesday’s 25-13, 25-19, 25-16 win at home against San Benito.

Rivera coach Elizabeth Avelar-Guerra said her team’s beginning to the match was a big reason for the outcome.

“I think it was very important that we came out so strong in the first two games because we set the tempo,” the Lady Raiders’ coach said. “Our girls set the tempo, they got confident and they were playing strong.

“Our start was great,” she added. “When we got to the second game I was trying to tell the girls that they played awesome, but not to relax. I told them to forget the first game because Harlingen (High) was going to come back. I told them they needed to start playing hard (again).

“A lot of times in the second game we’ve been dropping (our level of play) a lot. But the girls did great. They stayed focused and they stayed aggressive. I think they relaxed a little too much in the third game (though).”

The third set featured seven ties. The final deadlock came at 24 when Rivera had a blocked ball carry out of bounds.

A kill by Rivera’s Nisa Zuniga made it 25-24 before a hitting error by the Lady Cardinals that carried out gave Rivera the point it needed to win the third game and sweep the match.

“We knew coming in that Rivera was going to be a good team that would keep the ball in play and a team that was going to attack every single time,” Lady Cardinals coach Joslynn Torres said. “That’s exactly what they did. We were prepared for that, but of course, we obviously fell short. We didn’t see the spark that we needed until the third game (when we jumped out to a 10-3 lead before Rivera rallied).

“In volleyball, unfortunately, that’s a little too late (most of the time when your rally comes in the third game),” Torres added. “After our loss to Harlingen South (last week in three games), we don’t like to go down 3-0 (to Rivera), but all we can do is learn from it. This district is so evenly matched, it’s crazy.”

The stat leaders for the Lady Cardinals on Tuesday included Elaine Coronado (nine kills, seven digs), Callie Cervantes (27 digs), Alexandra Ramirez (four kills, four blocks), Juli Bryant (four kills, three blocks), Gabby Serna (five blocks, two kills), Elena Aguinaga (11 assists, 10 digs) and Destiny Martinez (nine assists, six digs).

For Rivera, the stat leaders included Alondra Guzman (10 digs, three kills, two aces), Christina Garza (six kills, five digs), Clarissa Olivares (29 assists, 12 digs), Kenya Ibarra (14 kills, six digs, two aces), Kimberly Chavez (seven blocks, four kills, two digs), Laisha Izaguirre (five blocks, four kills, two digs) and Richelle Guerra (20 digs, two aces, two kills).