As the interview began inside the pristine gym on the IDEA Frontier campus in Brownsville, it felt like one of many other interviews that would end up as a joyous, celebratory story about hard work leading to never-before-attained success.

It didn’t quite end that way, even though the hard work and success parts are accurate.

The name “Lexee” is shown on the shoulder of all Frontier players in memory of their coach’s daughter.

The three Chargers Bella Granado, Ruby Rosas and Alejandra Garza nervously sat next to one another and started with their introduction, in between the giggles and awkward attempts to answer questions.

Bella, a senior libero, is the spark that gets everything going. It’s her first year on varsity and she’s been the vocal one (she’s always chatting even probably now as she reads this) one, or in the political correct verbiage the one who communicates (also known as the chatter box during the good ole days). She loves and thrives at her position, even though she jokes about taking Alejandra’s spot as the outside hitter. But with her averaging a video-game-like 9.3 digs per set, one must wonder if opponents don’t see anyone else on the Chargers’ side of the court.

Ruby is a 5-foot-8 middle blocker whose ACL injury has forbidden her from playing all season. She’s become the sideline coach, the one who now sees things she didn’t see when she was in the matches. She lets her teammates know. They, in return, win for Ruby, their motto for each match.

That motto seems to be working just fine. The Chargers are 23-5, have captured the District 32-3A title the first for the program and are on a 13-match winning streak heading into their third straight postseason. The latest MaxPreps ranking has them seated at No. 15 in the state in Class 3A.

Head coach Jesus Figueroa, in his fourth year, along with Jaime Barrera, known as Coach B, have made people rethink about IDEA schools being only for academics and not worth a discussion in sports. This team is legit and could get better. They point to a three-set win over Class 6A Brownsville Porter as a legitimacy test.

Frontier’s Alejandra Garza goes up for an attack during practice Monday at IDEA Frontier in Brownsville

Alejandra is a big reason for legitimacy as well. The junior outside is managing almost 4 kills per set, hitting at a .343 clip and is second behind Bella in digs at 4.8 per set. She’s not as quiet at Ruby, nor as gibber-jabberish as Bella, but as she demonstrated during this interview, she has a mean staredown, she’ll clap and point in your face, and she’ll “bring it.”

The girls, and the rest of the team including their other outside Danna Melo, setter Naema Alatorre and middle Madison Matlock all leading the team in different categories statistically have much motivation.

While it’s always good to have extra motivation, more than the competition or the pride it brings, these girls the entire team have a bigger motivation. Midway through the interview, one of the girls shows the name “Lexee” on the left shoulder of her jersey they all wear it.

They proceeded to share the story, their voices lowering to that point where people want to know what’s going on moreso than if the laughter was boisterous, echoing off the walls.

Figueroa’s 13-year-old daughter was killed during the summer in a car crash. The girl was a few years younger than the girls on the team this year, but spent so much time in the gym during volleyball practice that she was fixture, and a friend, for the Chargers.

“It was so different,” Alejandra said. “One day, every day, we’d see her at practice. Then she just wasn’t there.”

The comment leaves the room eerily silent as the reality of it passed over everyone.

“It was tough, it was difficult,” Figueroa said, regarding his daughter. “The coaching staff and the girls were and have been so tremendous on a personal note to me and my wife. I’ve known all of them since sixth grade, they’re family. It was difficult times.”

So when the girls are asked what makes this year’s team so special, the obvious answer closeness has a little more meaning, and context, behind it.

“We had to deal with some programs, but those things have really pushed us,” Alejandra said. “We see the smile on our coach’s face every time we win or do something good. We carry this with pride. All the girls cared for her, and she was with us a lot.”

Now that they are district champs, the next goal is one round deeper at least to the third round of the playoffs. It would be another ceiling broken, and barrier bowled over.

“I know Lexee would’ve wanted me to do this,” said Figueroa, talking abut returning to the volleyball court sidelines. “I talked with my wife about it. She would want me to continue. She loved volleyball. These girls put it on their jersey and dedicated the season to Ruby and Lexee.

“It’s been a very emotional season to say the least.”

So, the story weaves, twists and turns, but in the end it’s still about hard work and overcoming the detours to achieve never before attained success.

Win one for Ruby, win even more for Lexee.

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