METRO-AREA VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW: Lady Falcons volleyball boasts chemistry, experience - Brownsville Herald: Sports

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METRO-AREA VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW: Lady Falcons volleyball boasts chemistry, experience

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Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2018 9:00 pm

It always helps to have team chemistry and a solid group of seniors.

The Los Fresnos Lady Falcons are blessed to have an abundance of both.

As the 2018 UIL volleyball season gets underway, the Lady Falcons are one of the Lower Rio Grande Valley squads already experiencing some early success.

Los Fresnos coach Becky Woods, now in her 34th year of guiding the Lady Falcons, believes the high level of team chemistry her squad is displaying is thanks to her group of 11 seniors who have been playing together for quite some time.

“ I have a big senior group,” Woods said. “They’re a very close-knit team. They’ve played together for many years and that’s what makes them so good. They know the positions to play and not to run into each other. They know how not to interfere with each other’s ball.

“ I’m very satisfied with where these girls are at right now,” Woods added.

Los Fresnos’ 11 seniors include Alex Garcia, Hannah Castillo, Gaby Cuevas, Jovanna Adame, Sarah Villarreal, Emma Stambaugh, Kaitlyn Mata, Elizabeth Vasquez, Sandra Salazar, Victoria Garcia Lebron and Isis Delgado, who was the District 32-6A libero of the year in 2017. Also a season ago, Villarreal was an all-district first-team selection while Stambaugh and Salazar made the second team.

The Lady Falcons don’t have quite the height they’ve enjoyed in past years.

“ Height-wise, I think it’s more heart over height (for us),” said Salazar, an outside hitter. “We just play our hardest no matter who is on the other side (of the net as our opponent).”

Added Mata, also an outside hitter, “I’ve been playing with most of these girls since I was in second grade. And with the ones who are new, we have a great group and we just bond together.

“ There’s no thought of someone being a senior and someone else being a sophomore,” Mata said. “We’re all friends on and off the court, and we’re just one team. It doesn’t matter how old you are.

“ I expect us to go very far (in the playoffs), farther than we’ve gone before.”

Here is a brief team-by-team look at the other Brownsville area squads:


The Lady Raiders will be defending their District 32-6A championship of a season ago in a six-team conference (no more Weslaco schools) as coach Elizabeth Avelar-Guerra begins her 26th season at the helm. She reached 500 wins for her coaching career (all spent at Rivera) last season.

Experienced players back for the Lady Raiders include Kourtney Shears, Madelaine Blanco, Claudia de la Garza, Martha Ramirez and Kaylyn Samano. Shears, now a hitter, was the 32-6A setter of the year last season and Blanco was the 32-6A defensive player of the year.

Newcomers who could make an impact include outside hitter Christina Garza and middle blocker Kenya Ibarra.

“ We have a young group with a lot to learn, but it’s also a group with a lot of potential,” Avelar-Guerra said. “I’m excited for the season. It’s a matter of how hard the girls want to work for it. District is going to be tough.”



The Lady Eagles are looking for a fifth straight trip to the playoffs out of 32-6A this season.

Hanna has eight players returning with experience on the varsity. They include Odalys Gonzales, Ariana Arcenaux, Natalie Davila, Tabitha Fernandez, Angelina Castillo, Rebecca Slaughter, Vivian Izaguierre and Natalie Arnold.

Gonzales, a middle blocker, was named newcomer of the year in 32-6A last season.

“ These girls are very coachable and they’re also very athletic,” Hanna coach Ansgar Hagemann said. “The district race in 32-6A is going to be very unpredictable.”

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