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McALLEN – McAllen High dominated all areas of Tuesday night’s District 31-5A high school volleyball opener with a 25-7, 25-11, 25-19 victory over city rival McAllen Rowe.
It was nowhere near the five-set, three-hour marathon the teams battled through last year as McHi allowed Rowe to score back-to-back points just one time in the first set and three times in the second set.
The Bulldogs’ aggressive serving kept Rowe’s defenders pushed deep, handcuffing them often and unable most of the times to have a clean and close attack. Meanwhile, led by Katherine Williamson and a host of other hitters, McHi swung at will and middle hitters Karely Cantu and Isabella Rivera got their hands on several attacks to chalk up multiple blocks and tipped balls. McHi finished the sweep with 13 aces, led by Braelyn Martinez with three.
“We’ve been working really hard and we are really confident with our players and kept a lot of energy through all three sets,” Williamson said. “We did a good job executing and staying humble and we did our job to not let them take over our mindset.”
Playing Rowe is traditionally a tough task for most teams due to a tenacious defense that leads to long rallies and forces opponents’ into carelessness. Tuesday’s match had few long rallies as the Bulldogs attacked relentlessly.
“We are going to attack aggressively when we serve and we work hard on that,” first-year McHi head coach Estefania Portillo said. “We are definitely ready to work on more transition to score more off that.”
McHi led 9-1, 14-2 and 19-3 in the first set as Cantu picked up a pair of blocks and Williamson and Gaby Estringel each added a pair of kills to a shellshocked Warriors squad that regrouped and trailed just 9-7 on the second set before McHi went on a 13-4 tear, most behind eight straight service points from Katelyn Pritchard. The Bulldogs also went on a 5-0 run with Pritchard serving in the third set.
Williamson paced the Bulldogs offensively with 10 kills while Estringel added five and Rocha dished in four to go with a pair of aces and 17 assists. Cantu had two blocks to go with her four kills.
The match took just a little more than an hour, most of the time reserved for the third set, as Rowe’s Hailey Gonzalez started finding some success attacking and Kendyl Keenan picked up a couple blocks. Rowe led 14-12 when Pritchard started the 5-0 run to put McHi back in front for good. Yaneli Rocha scored on a block then served out the final four points, including an ace, to clinch the match.
McHi is 1-0 on the season in a tough District 31-5A while Rowe dropped to 0-1.
Gonzalez led Rowe with four kills while Ariana Facundo had eight digs, Luanice Rivera contributed six digs and Leana Palacios added six assists.