HARLINGEN — Harlingen South senior Mikela Mireles first stepped onto a volleyball court when she was in seventh grade, trying out a new sport that her mom once played.
Mireles also played basketball and softball, and little did she know volleyball would become her passion and first love.
“I started playing in middle school, and I did it just to try it,” Mireles said. “My mom played it, and I gave it a shot and I fell in love with it. I just had a feeling when I played volleyball. It just was so much fun, and it made me happy.”
Mireles fueled Harlingen South in 2019. The hard-hitter accounted for 725 kills, 540 digs, 41 aces and 36 blocks, helping to guide South to a second straight playoff appearance and a second straight bi-district title.
Thanks to the strong season, she has been named the Valley Morning Star’s 2019 All-STAR Volleyball Most Valuable Player for a second straight year.
“This means the absolute world to me, knowing that all the work has paid off,” Mireles said, “and I never thought I’d be here. When I first started playing it was just for fun, and now I’m looking forward to playing at the next level.”
Last year, Mireles was tabbed MVP as a junior, racking up 602 kills, 513 digs, 35 aces and 30 blocks. This year, she improved on each of those statistics and cemented herself as one of the most feared hitters in the Rio Grande Valley.
“I was shocked when I saw how many kills I had this year,” Mireles said. “This year we finished games a lot quicker than we did last year, but we also played more games. It was a lot of hard work, and I knew I needed to step up as a senior to help get my team to where we needed to be.”
The road to back-to-back MVPs wasn’t an easy one for Mireles. Her sophomore year, she suffered a torn ACL in the middle of district play that sidelined her for the rest of the season.
South coach Anissa Lucio used one word to describe Mireles.
“She is determined, that would be the first word I would use to describe her,” Lucio said. “She is a competitor, and when she torn her ACL, to see her struggle and go through that and to see her comeback was amazing. She never looked back. She didn’t think of her injury, she just wanted to get better each day and she did that.”
Mireles helped revive the Lady Hawks’ volleyball program throughout her time there. During her sophomore year, South missed out on the postseason and won only two district games. While grey skies loomed, the big picture was in place for Mireles and the Lady Hawks.
“At first we weren’t sure, but once we saw Coach Lucio and how she did things, we knew that she knew what she was doing,” Mireles said. “We just followed in her footsteps and listened to what she had to teach us, and it all worked out.”