Hornets prep for first district victory with win over Holy Cross
East Central’s district wasn’t changed much in redistricting, and the volleyball team’s objective has remained exactly the same.
The Hornets (17-12, 1-0) have their sights set on qualifying for their first playoff appearance since 2015 in one of the region’s toughest Class 6A districts. They defeated San Marcos (16-14, 0-1) 25-23, 20-25, 25-7, 25-17 Sept. 7 at East Central’s Stan Bonewitz Center in their District 26-6A opener.
East Central tuned up for the match with a 25-21, 25-20, 27-25 win against Holy Cross (11-21) Sept. 4 on its home court.
“I think we have a chance to make to the playoffs,” East Central senior outside hitter Kristin Upshaw-Mendoza said. “Every day, we’re competing and improving. Every game, we’re getting better.”
The Hornets played with laser focus against Holy Cross, particularly in Game 3 when the Knights threatened to extend the match.
Holy Cross led 23-20 on a kill from sophomore Mackenzie Vernon (2 blocks). Upshaw-Mendoza (21 kills) delivered three consecutive kills from left side to tie it 23-23 and also had a kill on match point.
“The keys going in were communicating and playing like a team on the court,” Upshaw-Mendoza said. “I think it just helps to be talking on the court all the time. It helps keep us in the flow of the game.”
It was a rough week for Holy Cross, the TAPPS Class 5A state runners-up each of the last two years. Holy Cross lost 17-25, 27-25, 25-18, 25-20 to Austin Regents Aug. 6 and 26-24, 25-15, 25-16 to Victoria St. Joseph Aug. 8.
The Knights return with no full-rotation starters from their 2017 lineup and played the week without injured libero Madison Marino (strained hip muscle).
“We have three players that have experience, but you could say it’s a new team,” Holy Cross coach Ruben Calderon said. “We haven’t changed our goals for this year. We’re a young team, but I think we can go to state again. It’s just going to take time to instill confidence in them.”
Faye Wilbricht led Holy Cross with 17 kills. Victoria Fontenot provided 27 assists. Juliana Alaniz chipped in with 13 digs.
Senior Modesti Vargas was the Hornets’ defensive leader with 21 digs. Alyssa Hernandez (22 assists), Maddie Strzelczyk (3 aces) and Ashley Pearish (4 blocks) also were category leaders.
“I think I see more confidence going into district,” East Central coach Jasmine Hales said. “Last year, they were frustrated, but they’ve stepped up.”
Southside 3, Somerset 0
The second-place Cardinals (13-9, 4-1) blanked Somerset 25-18, 26-24, 25-20 in a District 28-5A match Sept. 7 at Southside. The Cardinals also won 25-16, 25-22, 25-23 at Eagle Pass Winn Sept. 4.
Sophomore libero Arianna Villegas led Southside with 12 digs against Somerset. Hannah Monita dealt 14 assists.
Southwest 3, Legacy 0
In the first-ever varsity meeting between the Southwest ISD rivals, Southwest (16-12, 3-2) swept host Legacy (2-26, 0-4) in a District 28-5A match Sept. 7. The fourth-place Dragons won 25-16, 25-7, 25-14.
Julieanna Ramos pounded eight kills and Valentina Martinez dealt 15 assists to lead the Dragons. Dacia Ortiz served four aces.
In another home match, Legacy fell 25-8, 25-12, 25-24 to Providence (7-16) Sept. 4. Nayda Salinas led the Titans with five assists and seven digs. Madelyn San Miguel finished with a team-best five kills and three digs.