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HARLINGEN — Trailing 24-21 and looking at a strong possibility of playing a fourth set, Gabby Estringel and KatherineWilliamson powered McAllen High to a win and sweep over Harlingen South during the bi-district round of the Class 5A statevolleyball playoffs Monday at Harlingen South.
McHi, which missed the postseason last year, captured a 25-21, 25-15, 27-24 victory and will play the winner of Corpus Christi Flour Bluff and Laredo Martin, who play Tuesday.
The Bulldogs trailed most of the third set and were down 23-19 before an unforced error from South and an Estringel stuff block pulled McHi to within one. They tied it on a Williamson kill. South again tied it at 25, but an attack error and another kill from Williamson sent the Bulldogs to the next round.
“Katherine has been so consistent for us all year long, and is such a great teammate and does her job very well,” first-year McHi head coach Estefania Portillo said. “She picks up her team when they need it.”
Malloree Mireles, a powerful junior lefty right side, had bursts throughout the match but especially in the third set, when she tallied five kills and a block. However, McHi kept Harlingen out of system in long spans when Mireles was not very involved and the Bulldogs pulled away with short runs.
“She’s a tough kid, and she brings a lot of offense to them,” Portillo said. “We had to prepare to try to stop her, and the girls did a good job.”
Williamson and the Bulldogs started slow, trading points often during the first set, but Karely Cantu came alive down the stretch with a key kill and a block as the Bulldogs claimed the set.
“I think my teammates did an amazing job today, and it’s now or never,” said Williamson, who was as effective a scorer from the back row as she was when in the front. “I think we needed to live in the moment, and we did. We used the middle a lot, and we need to keep practicing and work more in the middle.
“It’s an amazing feeling, winning in the playoffs. I’m glad I get to do it again with this group of girls.”
“It’s very big for them,” Portillo said of the playoff win. “It’s a brand new feeling for them, and we’re just happy to be back in theplayoffs.”