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Prior to the beginning of the season, IDEA Pharr volleyball coach Joseph Trevino asked his team what their goals were for the season.
A growing program that has transitioned from charter school to UIL competition, the Lions were coming off a second-place in district and a taste of the postseason.
So, naturally, they wanted more.
“It’s about who wants it more,” junior middle Aylen Flores said. “We had a better mindset this year and we believed we could win the district title.”
They did, just that, scratching it off their season bucket list with a near-perfect 15-1 record, beating out rival IDEA Quest, who ended up 14-2.
“I think we played at a higher level this year,” junior defensive specialist Alejandra Mata said. “There was more pressure but it was exciting.”
That pressure, however, didn’t make itself felt among the team’s big three – Mata, Flores and senior outside Regina Acosta, until the Lions went unscathed through the first round of District 31-3A play. After that, every team was aiming for the Lions, claws out in full ferocious force. But the Lions remained kings of the 31-3A jungle, and now they’re goal is to capture a first-round playoff win – another first for the program – Tuesday when they play Progreso at 6:30 p.m. at Donna High School.
“I think we are prepared,” Trevino said. “We have gotten so much better and, of course, there have been ups and downs but this is what our goal was coming from playoffs last year – a district championship and win one in the playoffs.”
The Lions played Progreso earlier this year, losing in a scrimmage but winning in a pre-district matchup. That brings some confidence, as did a tough road to the district championship.
“I told them starting the second round that everybody is out to beat you guys – that was us last year when we wanted to beat the team ahead of us,” Trevino said. “They are all going to have more energy and their excitement will be high. At first, the girls were unsure how to act but they learned and they didn’t let the others get them. But it was challenging.”
Trevino said the credit belongs to three seniors who started the bigger journey a year ago, and his big three this year – Acosta, Flores and Mata.
“The younger girls gravitate toward these girls, these leaders. The responsibility was all theirs,” Trevino said. “The three seniors we lost last year set the foundation and then it was these girls – this is where they wanted to be. I’m here guiding as much as I can but it’s them. It’s them fighting on the court and them fighting for each other. Take me out of the equation and I think they would do the same without me.
“I’m just here for the extra push – when they think they’re done and I know they’re not. That’s what a coach is supposed to do. They do all the work, I just push them farther. And they are capable of so much more than they realize.”