LYFORD — The Lyford Lady Bulldogs had a chip on their shoulder heading into their bi-district playoff game against Santa Rosa, and they used it to turn up a level and earn a sweep to advance to the area round in the Class 3A playoffs.
Lyford hitter Sabrie Romo said her team was a bit disappointed to not get the No. 1 seed and District 31-3A title, and they wanted to show what they could do in this game. Lady Bulldogs coach Amy Cantu said the girls communicated better than they have all season and played one of their better matches to get the 25-17, 25-13, 25-10 win over the Lady Warriors.
Romo and Haley Rodriguez were strong in the front row to lead the Lady Bulldogs. They got up for easy kills when Santa Rosa sent tips and overpasses just over the net, and got a lot of swings from the middle and outside offensively. Clarisa Gonzalez put down powerful kills when the timing was right between her and the Lyford setters, and hit some sharp shots from the back row.
“We just really wanted to win because we didn’t play that well our last game, so we wanted to show how good of a team we actually are,” Romo said. “We can still do way better, but we gave it our all today. (We were) moving faster for balls that were tips and hitting way better. I felt really good. I felt like I had my hops again, because I haven’t felt really hoppy lately, so I’ve been working out more. We got (Gonzalez) back and she was hitting really good, so that helped.”
Santa Rosa coach Carmen DeLeon was proud of the effort her team gave even when its deficit increased. The Lady Warriors went into a 14-day quarantine after Oct. 10, so they had just one week to practice and get back into game mode before taking on the postseason.
The Lady Warriors were scrappy and quick, covering the court well to keep rallies alive. But their passing was inconsistent, which kept the offense off-balance and resulted in free passes and tips that were easy for Lyford to handle.
Sarah Sanchez played well as a hitter and defensively to lead Santa Rosa. Sanchez and Brandy Anaya recorded the majority of Santa Rosa’s kills and used well-placed tips to target open spots in Lyford’s defense for points. Libero Jocelyn Mata and defensive specialist Katlyn Montemayor, who was new to volleyball this season, were top contributors in the back row for the Lady Warriors.
“We haven’t been practicing as much as the other teams since we had the 14 days (off), and it’s hard for us to come back and try to put it together,” DeLeon said. “But my girls fought the whole way through and there’s nothing else to say, but I’m proud of them because they stuck it out. (Sanchez has) been playing varsity for three years and she loves the sport, her and Brandy Anaya. They’re trying to get after the girls and motivate them because they enjoy it so much.”
Lyford’s back-row defense, led by libero Hannah Garza, had some issues early with serve-receive and on-target passes, but it improved as the game went on. Garza, Romo and defensive specialist Alyssa Garcia were strong at the service line to spark scoring runs to help the Lady Bulldogs win the bi-district championship.
“(They had) a whole new, different attitude. During the season our girls were kind of off, but now coming into playoffs, they were ready for it,” Cantu said. “They didn’t want to end the season, especially because it was a short season. We weren’t first in district and they were kind of upset about that, and they found it in themselves in this game. I told them before we started playing, ‘Girls, if there’s anything I ask from you, it’s communication.’ We lacked that all season, and I saw it today.”
La Feria sweeps Alice to clinch bi-district championship
The La Feria Lionettes swept the Alice Lady Coyotes 25-19, 25-11, 25-14 in a road match Saturday to advance to the area round of the Class 4A playoffs.
Lionettes coach Rebea Fraga said it was a total team effort and that a number of players contributed in a lot of ways. Reanne Fraga notched 11 kills to lead the attack, and she added nine digs and five assists. Sabrina Castaneda, Ayisha Castillo and Alani Garza anchored the defense with 14, 13 and 12 digs, respectively.
Castillo also dished out 17 assists, and Garza added four kills and an ace. Lulu Trevino had seven kills and five digs, and Sophia Cabrera recorded nine digs.
La Feria will face Crystal City in the next round Tuesday. Location and time details are still in the works.
“We looked like the more experienced team out there,” Rebea Fraga said. “We played very calm, cool and collected, as they say, and I think that’s what showed. They were really excited (when we won). It was fun. We played really well.”