The Veterans Memorial High School (VMHS) Lady Patriots hosted 23 other 4A and 5A teams at the Mission Varsity Volleyball Tournament last week and quickly proceeded to demonstrate why they’re the second-ranked team in the Valley. With straight set wins over Weslaco, PSJA Memorial, San Benito and Nikki Rowe, Coach Diana Lerma’s Lady Patriots took no prisoners en-route to the tournament’s championship game where they defeated the McAllen Memorial Lady Mustangs 25-10, 25-23 and 25-20 to claim the tourney title.
VMHS was led by tourney Co-Most Valuable Players Shania Gilpin (senior) and Gabby Lerma (sophomore). Darian “D.D.” Ibarra (freshman) and Kassy Lopez (senior) were also key producers for the Lady Patriots, receiving All-Tourney honors. In Saturday’s championship match, Gilpin’s contributions included 12 kills and seven aces while Lerma added 11 kills and four aces of her own. Ibarra made her presence known with her 12 assists, three kills and 23 digs.
After having to settle for a share of the District 32-4A title last year, Coach Lerma believes that this Lady Patriots team has what it takes to bring VMHS its first outright district championship since 2008.
“This is my dream team because they’re all about the points,” said Lerma. “Five sophomores and one freshman play all around. We have a lot of inner squad competition. They can be upset about it and complain or they can fight. That fight is more productive for me and it makes my job a lot easier.”
With the win over the Lady Mustangs, VMHS improved its record to 13-0. That, however, is just part of the story since the Lady Patriots have a much more impressive winning streak that includes their recently completed summer schedule.
“Since the summer I believe that we’re 50-0 because we won the Edinburg league, we won the Mission league and we won every single weekend pretty much all summer long. That shows how much it paid off for the parents to keep these girls here so that they could play while everybody else went on vacation,” shared Lerma.
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VMHS was not the only Big 6 team to compete in the Mission tournament. The Mission High Lady Eagles, Sharyland, La Joya and the Palmview were also part of the 24 team field. Of these, La Joya was the only other top six finisher with their 25-23, 25-23 victory over the Harlingen High Lady Cardinals Saturday, which resulted in a fifth place finish for Coach Lyrissa Molina’s Lady Coyotes.
“This was a very, very positive tournament for us,” shared Molina. “We started off playing against some very tough teams such as Edinburg High, who we beat in the first round, and Sharyland who we played very, very close but lost to in three games. Everybody in the whole tournament was watching us play so that was a good feeling.”
“Then Friday we defeated another tough competitor in PSJA Memorial,” added Molina. “That put is in position to win a trophy which we did against a very well coached team like Harlingen High School.”
Selene Iracheta was name All-Tourney for the Lady Coyotes who earned their 10th victory of the season Saturday and who won their second trophy in just their second tournament of the season.
Sharyland was the only other Big 6 team with a chance of winning a trophy entering play Saturday but the Nikki Rowe Lady Warriors would have none of that as they defeated Coach Laura Cavazos’ Lady Rattlers 25-15 and 25-22 in the third place game. Even so, Cavazos believes that her team is on the right track.
“I think we did well in the tournament,” said Cavazos. “We had an injury to our setter on Thursday so we had to make adjustments but they came out and played hard. We’re still young and we’re still in the learning process but as I told my girls I want them to control what they can control, which is their effort and communication, and hopefully that will improve with every single game.”
”While we did struggle in some aspects of the game today, I think the way we came out of this tournament was good considering the adjustments we had to make. But that’s no excuse, we just have to continue playing hard,” added Cavazos. “
Nora Monie received All-Tourney honors for the Lady Rattlers.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.