McALLEN — Last season, Sharyland High could only look up at the four teams that advanced to the playoffs. The Rattlers finished fifth in a stacked district, one spot shy of the postseason.
This morning, however, they have nobody to look up to. They are alone at the top of District 31-5A.
The Rattlers became the only undefeated team in district after a 21-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-20 victory over McAllen Memorial on Tuesday in a showdown of the final two unbeaten district squads.
Sharyland improved to 4-0 in district while Memorial slipped to 3-1 in a match considered to be a battle of the two biggest offensive arsenals in the RGV.
Memorial was playing without their leading hitter, junior Amare Hernandez, but the Mustangs still took the first set behind some major attacks from another junior, Lead Garcia, and an impressive defensive display along the front row with Kaitlin Martin and Cameron Vela.
But, in the end, the Rattlers took over with high-pressure serves and more big swings than the Mustangs could keep up with.
“We said we have to be aggressive,” Sharyland High head coach Raul Castillo said. “If we go back and look at previous games, we have to be aggressive with our serves and even if they (Memorial) are out of system, they are going to swing and they are going to swing hard. Sure enough, that’s what they did.
“So our game plan was to get them off the net, then hopefully play some good defense around that block.”
Sophomore Kenisha Martinez and senior America Hernandez paced the Rattlers’ high-caliber offense. The Rattlers trailed 8-7 in the second set before going on a 7-1 run and pull away 14-9. Quality serving from Garcia and Kassie Falcon pulled the Mustangs back to within 17-16.
The Rattlers went on the 6-0 run, however, with Faith Arevalo serving up an ace and Martinez registering a kill off a block.
“We had some pressure but handled it really good, even though it wasn’t our best energy today,” Martinez said. “Coach told us to keep our head up after the first set and we had to serve strong and be more aggressive. Serves are the only thing we can control and we weren’t serving hard at first.
“Then we started to serve better and that helped us a lot.”
Neither team put together long runs, instead collecting two or three points at a time before the opponent took a timeout. At least six times during the match, following a timeout, a service error or attack error would end the run.
Martinez finished the night with a match-high 25 kills and two blocks while Hernandez contributed eight. Kassandra de la Garza had 42 assists for the Rattlers.
Madisyn Sosa paced Memorial with nine kills, 15 digs and four aces, while Garcia tallie... Click here to read full article