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It’s not often that fans on both sides of a crowded gym stand in eager anticipation for the next play to develop.

It’s a collective deep breath, followed by shouts of excitement and awe, then the anticipation swells again.

That’s what it was like for Brownsville St. Joseph Academy’s Deliany Cortinas during the sub-5A All-Star volleyball game this past season at McAllen High.

Time and again, the 5-11 middle went up and not just attacked but exploded on the ball, oftentimes landing well inside the 10-foot line, bringing those in attendance either cheering for the West or Cortinas’ East team to their feet time and again, louder and louder, clearly having the most impressive performance of the day’s three matches.

Many of those friends, family, coaches and others were cheering her again Wednesday at St. Joseph as she signed a full-ride scholarship to play volleyball at Ranger Junior College. She joins Los Fresnos setter Jenna Rios as the second signee to join the Rangers volleyball team.

“It’s a great chance to go to a good school and to go with my friend (Jenna), who told me a lot of good things about it,” said Cortinas, who was the All-Area Sub-5A Volleyball Player of the Year last season. “I need to just keep working hard. This is only the beginning.”

Confidence is now a part of her resume to pair with an obvious escalation of talent. Much of that confidence came from her high school coach, Dolores Olguin-Trevino, her club coaches at Valley Venom and that one day where she was a superstar of All-Stars.

“At first I was, like, it’s not a big deal,” Cortinas said about the All-Star event. “But once I saw the crowd and how loud they wereit was awesome and exciting. I’m so glad I’ve had people supporting me.”

Ranger College volleyball coach Nicole Smith said during a phone interview that she was excited to have Cortinas and Rios added to the roster.

“I’m looking forward to them working and growing, and bringing what they have to Ranger College,” Smith said. “They are two outstanding players who have had great coaches in high school and with the Valley Venom coaches. They’ve done a tremendous job getting these young ladies ready for the next level.

“It has also helped that they’ve played together in club, so they know a lot of what each other can do. We are totally excited about our future and them being a part of it.”

“I’ve been growing in my confidence, and I keep growing up,” Cortinas said. “I’m learning to take those things in the past and use them to become a better person. As time goes, you just need to keep working and learning.”