By: JOHN CANNON
(DONNA) – On Friday morning, volleyball teams from across the Rio Grande Valley got their first chance to face live competition as scrimmages officially began.
Five of those teams headed to the city of Donna and hit the hardwood at Donna High School to see where they stand after four full days of practice.
Brownsville Rivera, Edcouch-Elsa, Edinburg Economedes, Donna High and San Benito participated in a live scrimmage and were looking for certain things prior to the start of the season.
“Right now I am looking to find girls who can step up and fill into the starting rotation,” said Donna High head volleyball coach Cindy Viesca. “We graduated six girls from last year and right now only have one returning starter.”
“We moved up a bunch of girls from the JV squad this year and are using these scrimmages to get them acclimated to live action. I was impressed with what I saw from them this week in practice and the team unity seems to be really good. Now we get to see if everything that was worked on in practice will translate to live action.”
Against Economedes in their first scrimmage, Viesca was pleased with how her young group handled the live competition and feels her team is right about where they need to be at right now.
“We did some good things against Economedes this morning and I feel we are right on track with where we want to be,” said Viesca. “Lucky for us, we have a few more scrimmages and a good non-district schedule to continue to evaluate the girls and will have everyone in the right place once district play rolls around.”
Like Donna, Brownsville Rivera is using these scrimmages to evaluate the girls prior to the start of the season.
The Lady Raiders had a mix of youth and seniors last season and found themselves falling short of a playoff spot for the first time in years.
Entering the 2016 season, Rivera has a nice mix of girls returning and head coach Liz Avelar-Guerra feels their experience that was gained from last year will help get them back to the postseason.
“We did have a senior group last year. But my younger group was the main focal point of the team,” said Avelar-Guerra. “I had a good hitter in my senior group and the rest of them were diggers. So all of my big hitters were underclassmen and for a lot of them, it was their first time playing at the varsity level. They were going through the growing pains all season long and even towards the end of the season, we were still in the mix for a playoff spot. Unfortunately, we fell short though.”
“So coming into this season, these girls are hungry to get back in the playoffs and have been working hard over the summer to bring that rich tradition back here to Rivera. In today’s scrimmage against Edcouch-Elsa, I really liked what I saw from them and it appears the girls have really grown since last year. They did some good things and that definitely is a positive thing. But we also need to tweak a couple of things so we can continue to get better. We can never be satisfied and always have to be improving our game. So these scrimmages will help us do that way come district play, we will be clicking on all cylinders.”