A slow start was too much to overcome for Brownsville Jubilee in the area round of the Class 3A playoffs, bringing the Lady Titans’ season to an end after a three-set loss to Orange Grove in Falfurrias.
Brownsville Jubilee struggled to contain the hard-hitting Lady Bulldogs during the first two sets. The senior-heavy Lady Titans showed resiliency and made the third set competitive, but Orange Grove’s offensive attack and quick-footed defense secured a 25-4, 25-12, 25-20 sweep to advance to the third round of the playoffs.
The six seniors on the Jubilee roster were emotional as the team huddled after the game. Coach Rebekah Perez credited the group with setting a solid foundation for Lady Titans athletics and said she was proud of the way the seniors took it upon themselves to lead the team, particularly in the final set.
“Majority of our lineup is seniors, we only had two non-seniors in that lineup,” Perez said. “They knew it was do or die. They knew, potentially, if it didn’t go our way, that would be their last set, and that’s what fueled it. We got started a little too late, and then we tried to ride it a little too late. Cards fell where they fell, but I think overall it’s been a pretty good season considering the odds that were stacked against us.”
Senior libero Alexis Robinson put together a strong performance in her final game with Jubilee. She passed well and dove all over the court to help her teammates after shanked passes and to get under tips. Robinson showed power as well, sending over sharp, dropping hits from the back row and a challenging serve.
Senior middle blockers Alondra Garcia and Jazmine Gracia and senior outside hitter Daniela Bannak led Jubilee’s hitters. Garcia was the top blocker for the Lady Titans and recorded several blocks against the powerful Orange Grove hitters.
Jubilee’s passing was inconsistent throughout the match, which kept the Lady Titans from being able to create an offensive rhythm. Orange Grove hitters Hailey Eulenfeld, Kiley French and Talee Oaks were especially dominant in leading the attack and the blocking effort to keep Jubilee off balance.
“Seniors are most of the team, so we just wanted to make it memorable and we couldn’t just go down,” Robinson said. “We had to just keep competing and not let it take us over. Forget about the score, forget about how many sets you won or lost, just play and have fun. I think what we lacked was we just weren’t having fun. We were just trying to get points, points, points in the first two sets. In the third set, we were just having fun and it helped us bounce back.”
The Lady Titans turned up the energy in the third set and behind an inspired start from Garcia at the net. She blocked or tipped several Orange Grove hits and got up to record some hard kills herself to help Jubilee take an 11-8 lead.
Jubilee senior setter Julissa Garza distributed the ball well and read the Lady Bulldogs’ defense to send over some well-placed tips for points. She did a good job saving passes that were sent too close to the net to give her team opportunities to keep rallies alive.
The Lady Titans covered their hitters better in the third and controlled their swings better in the third to swap ties and leads with Orange Grove all the way to 19-19. Lady Bulldogs coach Ashleigh Box called a timeout after a hard hit from Gracia got Jubilee fired up. The timeout stopped Jubilee’s momentum, and Orange Grove’s hitters closed out the match.
“This is a good group of kids, and they’re multi-sport athletes,” Perez said. “They were kind of the foundation at Jubilee. Building the program to where it is started with them, so I feel for them. We had high hopes, even with minimal practices and minimal games. … But I’ll take a loss like this over not having a season. They leaned on each other a lot. It was good to see them take initiative.”
La Feria, San Perlita advance; Lyford’s season ends
The La Feria Lionettes swept Crystal City 25-12, 28-26, 25-9 on Tuesday in Zapata to advance to the Class 4A Region IV quarterfinals.
Reanne Fraga led the offense with 10 kills and added nine digs and a block defensively. Ayisha Castillo played a solid game, notching 17 digs, 18 assists and five kills. Sabrina Castaneda anchored the back-row defense with 23 digs.
The Lionettes will face Tuloso-Midway at 6 p.m. Thursday at Kingsville King in the third round.
The San Perlita Lady Trojans also clinched an area championship Tuesday in the Class 1A playoffs. San Perlita defeated Medina in Alice 25-13, 26-24, 20-25, 25-17 to advance to the regional quarterfinals.
The Lyford Lady Bulldogs saw their season come to an end Monday as they lost to Corpus Christi London 25-13, 25-8, 25-14.