Only have a minute? Listen instead
There’s a different sound when Amare Hernandez hits the volleyball during an attack, like the difference between a snare drum and a huge-pounding bass drum.
It was drum roll Saturday – bass drum roll — as the senior outside hitter helped boom McAllen Memorial to a 25-18, 22-25, 25-20, 25-19 over city and district rival McAllen High at McAllen Memorial.
The win improves Memorial to 3-0 in District 31-5A and 20-12 overall while McHi fell to 2-1 and 23-6, The win sets up Tuesday’s battle between defending district champion Sharyland High (3-0, 28-1) and Memorial at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Those two teams both reached the UIL Class 5A Sweet 16 last season. Meanwhile McAllen High will travel to the district’s other undefeated team, Sharyland Pioneer (23-3 and 3-0).
Hernandez, a key cog in Memorial’s “attack pack” registered a match-high 18 kills while adding five blocks, 2 aces and six digs as the Bulldogs often attacked Hernandez and fellow attack packer Madisyn Sosa from the service line, hoping to keep the hitters out of system.
Sosa and Leah Garcia, also part of that crew, finished with 10 kills apiece for the offensive juggernaut Mustangs.
“Madisyn and I know we have targets on our backs,” Hernandez said. “We are opening up to it. And when the balls are coming we stay calm and pass it. Even when we were down today we were all still playing together. I’m so grateful the way we’ve been working on playing together.”
Trailing 19-17 in the fourth, and facing a possible deciding winner-take-all fifth set, Hernandez and Garcia were like a lefty-righty combination in the boxing ring as Memorial went on a match-ending 8-0 run. It started with a Hernandez kill and two more booming points, scattered between two equally as powerful kills from Garcia. Senior setter Gaby Torres served out the final seven points to go with her 22 assists, 10 digs and pair of aces.
Karly Bazan and Kaitlin Martin had a monster day in the middle, with six and four blocks, respectively to go with Hernandez’s five defenses at the net.
“That helps to really intimidate and we are lucky to be able to put up such a big block,” Doffing said. “Being blocked is a mentally tough thing.”
Those blocks led to McHi often times tipping the ball or taking some power off their attacks, looking more to go over than through Memorial’s outstretched arms.
McHi won the second set despite five service errors. They also had five service errors in the third set and four in the fourth, trying to remain aggressive and keep Memorial’s offense laying back. It worked for much of the match. When it didn’t however, the attack pack … attacked.
“It’s a tough part of the schedule,” said Doffing, whose team plays Pioneer on Saturday, after the Sharyland matchup. “But that’s why we take them out of town for tournaments. They need to learn to play big matches back to back and learn to battle every point. Nothing’s going to be given.”
Senior Katherine Williamson led McHi offensively with 14 kills while sophomore Gabby Estringel added 13.