Lady Chargers defeat Lady ’Hounds in straight sets

SAN BENITO — The San Benito Lady Greyhounds made their season debut against the Brownsville Veterans Memorial Lady Chargers on Tuesday at home, and lost the non-district match in three sets.

The Lady Chargers performed well at the service line to aid their 25-18, 25-16, 25-23 victory. Brownsville Veterans coach Elizabeth Mares felt her team didn’t play its best, but she’s glad it found a way to finish as it continues learning and developing.

“Well, that wasn’t very pretty. I know they can do better,” Mares said. “Our defense struggled, and that’s what hurt us. Even though we got the win, it wasn’t a great display on our behalf. San Benito has always been a really scrappy team, and they just get things over. I told the girls, ‘This is when the basics really come into play,’ and we passed horrible. But it’s still early, so I’m telling them they need to listen and learn.”

San Benito took the court with very limited practice, leading to some nerves and shaky chemistry among the players. Lady ’Hounds coach Ruby Medina said they spent the first four days last week conducting tryouts, narrowing 65 candidates to a 12-man varsity roster, so the team hasn’t spent much time figuring each other out on the court.

“Right now, I have a lot of new players and I feel the chemistry isn’t there. They’re unsure of where they’re supposed to be on the court,” Medina said. “The good thing is they did come back, but we always have a slow start and they were nervous. It’s little things they need to adjust to, but I saw some good things.”

The Lady ’Hounds played well in spurts through the first two sets but they struggled on first touches, which led to a rushed and inconsistent offensive attack. Brownsville Veterans was effective at the service line as it targeted holes in San Benito’s defense, particularly with shallow serves that fell at the 10-foot line.

Katherine Fourt played well from the middle blocker position, but it was Brownsville Veterans’ outside hitters that carried the load in the match. Gladis Espinoza and Valeria Sumaya were productive as the go-to attackers.

“I think we’re a pretty good serving team, so that’s one of the things we’re strongest with,” Mares said. “(Sumaya) adjusted well, she got a lot of good kills. Today, my outside hitters did a lot of work because the pass wasn’t there. They adjusted well, and it was good to see them playing a lot more and hitting a lot more.”

The Lady Chargers took early advantages during the first two sets — opening a 7-1 lead in the first and 10-0 lead in the second behind Daniella Espinosa’s serve — but San Benito started on top in the third. The Lady ’Hounds kicked off the deciding set with a 5-0 lead with help from Brownsville Veterans errors, but the Lady Chargers tied things with a five-point scoring run.

Both teams looked more in sync, and the rallies were long and competitive as they swapped ties and leads. The Lady Chargers pulled away midway through the set thanks to solid play at the net from Carrington Lane and Kimberly Lopez.

San Benito’s defense, led by libero Brianna Castillo, was more consistent and active during the third set. Lady ’Hounds hitters Yahaira Perez and Zoe Betancourt carried the offense throughout the night, and made the Brownsville Veterans defense work with their strong swings.

Rubi Martinez blocked and hit well for San Benito, but was particularly effective at the service line. She sparked scoring runs for her team with her rocket serve and kept the Lady Chargers out of system.

But collectively, San Benito struggled with missed serves and other self-inflicted errors in the match. Medina isn’t using their minimal prep time as an excuse and said the issues she saw can be improved once the Lady ’Hounds spend a little more time working as a group.

“We’re a very good serving team but the serving wasn’t there, and I think it would have been a different game if it was,” Medina said. “When the pass was there and everything went well with the set, our hitters were actually hitting the ball well. I just feel they weren’t hitting to the right areas. It’s things I know are fixable and in time I think we’ll see good results, we just need the time to practice.”