Five NISD teams looking to shine
By Pat Turner
After making the grade in district, it’s on to the playoffs for Clark, O’Connor, Brandeis, Warren and Harlan.It all begins this week with round one. In 6A, District 28-6A champion Clark plays Madison of District 27-6A and Brandeis takes on Johnson at Northside Gym. At Littleton Gym, O’Connor goes against Reagan and Warren faces Churchill.
Harlan (28-12, 16-0), which ran the table to the 28-5A title, makes its first playoff appearance in a bi-district clash with Edison at Alamo Convocation Center.
The four playoff positions in 28-6A were determined before the season finale. However, second place was unknown after the Panthers, Broncos and Warriors were locked in a tie for the position going into the final match.
Clark knocked Warren out of the No. 2 spot with a 3-0 victory. While the Warriors fell into the fourth position, O’Connor and Brandeis claimed their matches with the Broncos topping Taft in three and the Panthers sweeping Stevens. Since the two rivals split their contests, a coin flip determined the No. 2 and No. 3 playoff seeding and Brandeis won.
Clark (43-3, 18-0) was on the mark the entire time in district, which is the reason the Cougars had a perfect run.
The outing against Warren (23-20, 13-5) was another example of the Cougars’ ability to take charge of a match. Kara McGhee, who unloaded 20 kills, Elise McGhee, Grace Gibson, Shadee Briggs and Taylor McDonough came up with hits consistently on assists from Ashley Hu during the Cougars’ 25-17, 25-21, 25-20 wins.
However, Clark held advantage.
For Warren, making the playoffs is a major accomplishment. The Warriors came up short in recent years, but things fell into place this season.
“We’re really excited,” Warren coach Jacqueline Barrientes said. “This is the first time to be in the playoffs since 2012. This senior class started with me four years ago and we set a goal to make the playoffs. We battled through some injuries and came up short the past three years.
“This year we decided this is it. We were going to preserver and get it back to where we needed.”
Brandeis and O’Connor also appear ready for the playoffs.
The Broncos had things clicking in their district finale as Maya Smalls, who finished with 15 kills, Jalyn Gibson (10 kills, 10 digs) Chidera Ugwokaegbe, Selby Draker and Chase Kluna, who delivered 36 assists with two kills.
“We have to keep working,” Williams said. “It’s one match at a time. We’ve improved. Our leadership from our seniors has helped. When things are going bad, they do a good job of getting everyone together.”
O’Connor (36-11, 14-4) displayed a younger look this season and though the Panthers had their share of growing pains they made positive strides along the way with a number of players coming through in the clutch, including Marina De La Rosa, Gabby De Los Santos, Bryshanna Brown, Lexi Davila, Sunnie Ozment, Emmy Ogogor, Peyton Hummel, Terez Chavez and Jordan Schenkel.
Harlan has enjoyed first-time experiences during its varsity debut. After winning their first district championship, the Hawks are looking to add a first-time playoff victory to the mix.
After a competitive non-district schedule, the Hawks got on a roll at the beginning of 25-6A and picked up the pace.
In this past week’s 3-0 win over Eagle Pass Winn, the Hawks took control with a potent offensive attack sparked by Kiana Fallaha (11 kills), Ayanna Jackson, Arissa Willis, who helped out with five aces and eight kills, Julie Arguijo and Jevani Hanspard.
Elsewhere in 28-6A, Brennan (24-18, 11-7), which remained in the playoff hunt until the final two weeks, finished its year with a 3-1 win over Holmes (12-23, 3-15).
Holmes, led by Arianna Agueros and Alyna Alamillo’s kills, took a 25-23 win in the first set. Although the Huskies continued to pound out the hits, Brennan got the advantage as Kayla Lofland, who totaled 12 kills and 26 digs, Ahzi Coleman, Gaby Torres, Gabby Arredondo and Lela Collier rallied the Bears to 25-22, 25-22, 25-17 wins.
Marshall (12-27, 3-15) finished its season with a 3-1 win over Jay (8-23, 2-16).
Gizelle Tabaras led the Mustangs with her front work and a 25-20 win in the second set. However, the Rams, who took game one 25-20, finished strong behind the play of Erin Lyons, Rebecca Henderson, Clara Ortega and Alexis De La Garza for 25-16, 25-23 wins.
For scores and updates from the playoffs, check out the Echo’s twitter @helotesecho2013, or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jameshelotesecho
Images from the 2018 season games and the playoffs can be found at https://echosportszone.pixieset.com/