By MARK MAY, Special To The Monitor
MISSION — Andrea Grant and Mariana Garcia combined for 22 kills as Harlingen South swept Mission High on Saturday in a Class 6A bi-district playoff match.
The Lady Hawks improved to 7-4 overall and, more impressively, 5-0 on the road this season with the 25-20, 25-15, 25-16 victory. Mission High’s season ended at 8-2.
“We’ve had an edge about playing away, and we’ve told them it doesn’t matter where we play, it’s still volleyball,” Lady Hawks fourth-year coach Anissa Lucio said. “We have to play our game.”
The Lady Hawks will face San Antonio Warren (13-7) in the area round at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Corpus Christi Ray. Warren swept Laredo Alexander on Friday night.
Garcia, a junior, said the team’s family atmosphere is most important in terms of emerging victorious away from home.
“We don’t take teams lightly,” she added. “We play every team likes it’s the last game. We just did it and … we showed heart and we just played with confidence, and that’s what got us (the win).”
Garcia slammed 13 kills, and Grant fired home nine. Patricia Garza generated 32 digs, and teammate Liaida De Jesus added 31. Alexa Encinia had 21 assists and 22 digs for the Lady Hawks.
Lucio said Garcia and Grant have been producing a lot of points all season.
“Offensively, they’ve been huge for us, and they knew what our game plan was and they stuck to it, so I’m proud of them for that,” Lucio said.
Ashley Perez and Mayella Cantu had multiple kills for the Lady Eagles.
The third set started off tight with Harlingen South leading 9-8 before outscoring Mission High 15-5 for a 24-13 lead. The Lady Eagles engineered a three-point run before they misplayed a ball popped over the net by Garza for the match-clinching point and a 25-16 victory.
The set was indicative of how the match went. Each time Mission High produced a short run, the Lady Hawks found a way to steal back the momentum.
“Our key was being able to adjust quick, even if we made a mistake, to adjust quick,” said Grant, a senior. “And another thing our coaches really harp on is being able to stay in control of the game and staying calm no matter what, and to keep our foot on the gas.”
The Lady Hawks and Lady Eagles were tied at 3 during the first set before the green and orange motored out to a 15-7 lead after a Mission High return went out of bounds. They clinched the first set, the most competitive of the three, after Grant’s cross-court spike made it 25-20.
Garcia rocketed through five spikes for crucial points in the second set. The Lady Hawks led 9-8 before an 8-0 run capped by a Garcia scorcher extended the lead to 17-8. They cruised to a 25-15 victory.
“Our girls are resilient,” Lucio said. “They really want the ball all the time. I think the biggest thing for us is we just needed to bounce back from our mistakes. They did that quick today, and so I was proud of them for doing that.”