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Every hurricane has “the eye of the storm.” It’s the point around where the rest of the storm rotates. It’s the moment of peace, the calmness amidst the tornadoes, the thunder and lightning and all the craziness of the storm.

McAllen Memorial’s Gaby Torres.

Gaby Torres is the eye of the hurricane named “Mustangs.”

And circling the eye of the storm are what’s known as the eyewall winds, the strongest in the hurricane.

Torres has played varsity for McAllen Memorial now for four years. She was labeled as one of the “Fab Four Freshmen” along with fellow teammates Leah Garcia, Amare Hernandez and Madisyn Sosa – those three are the eyewall winds.

She is not one of the thunderous hitters that distinction goes to the other three. She’s the conductor of the formidable Memorial train, the one who delivers the high octane that becomes the fuel for the end result.

“She has just been a constant for this team,” McAllen Memorial head coach Ashley Doffing said about her smooth-and-steady calm-headed setter. “She came on as a freshman and in heated moments just having her ability, her IQ and calmness helps the team.

“It gets chaotic and she’s able to remain calm and poised through it all.”

Tuesday’s regional quarterfinal was a perfect example of what Torres brings and has brought to the powerful Memorial lineup. She rattled off 30 assists and had some heroic defensive moments as the Mustangs claimed a sweep over Sharyland, ending the Rattlers’ 43-match win streak and sending Memorial to their second straight Sweet 16. Torres may not get the glory the rest of the Mustangs hitters do but she provides the stage for them to walk across.

“You need someone who is a solid foundation, that’s the heart of the team. That’s Gaby,” said Hernandez, possibly the biggest and hardest hitter in the Rio Grande Valley. “She’s commanding and powerful, but in a poised way. When the stakes are high, you need someone who is going to calm you down, give you that sense of comfort. She brings that.

“And, nobody wants to disappoint Gaby.”

Memorial will play Rouse at 5 p.m. Friday at the Northside Sports Gym in San Antonio in the first Region IV-5A semifinal. Flour Bluff and Liberty Hill will play the second match, at 7 p.m. The winners will play for the Region IV championship and a trip to the state tournament, AKA the Final Four, next week.

Doffing said that it’s Torres’ calmness that allows the storm around her to grow more powerful and more dangerous. The match against Sharyland showed that. With fans clad in red throughout half the gym, and in home blue all the rest of the way around, the gym and energy in it was crackling loud and intense.

Memorial jumped out to a huge lead in the third set – 16-2 at one point. However, the Rattlers had a 44-1 record on the season going in—clearly they aren’t a team known for caving in. While Torres was given a little break with such a huge lead, that break didn’t last long and Doffing had up back in to help stop the crazed Rattlers’ comeback attempt.

The calmness returned. The Mustangs finished it off.

“We all wanted to win that third set  — wanted to sweep on our home floor,” Hernandez said. “It was getting so close and when she came in, it was for one purpose – get a side out. Then, we knew if we can get a pass, she will do something with the ball. She will make something happen.

“That match showed that we can’t do it without each other.”

Doffing recalled on of the first times she saw proof of Torres’ grace under pressure came in an even more hostile environment – at McHi where the winner would go to the Sweet 16. Torres was a freshman that year.

“It was packed house, big, gym, in the middle of Thanksgiving break, the fact she didn’t panic and could still run the offense – I was proud of her,” Doffing said. “Out hitters always get talked about because of the big kills and all that glamour.

“They wouldn’t be able to make the floor shake with those kills if it wasn’t for her setting them up.”

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