BY HENRY MILLER
For four years, Mayda Garcia lived a volleyball life above the net, hammering her will down upon opponents and collecting kill after kill.
But Garcia is now a former Lady Warrior, her powerful swings and leadership no longer on the Nikki Rowe volleyball court. There’s no doubt of the great loss of Garcia – and three other senior starters from last year’s squad.
However, those losses also bring openings and Nikki Rowe head coach Magda Canales has made sure since before school closed last year that the challenge was passed along to this year’s version of the Nikki Rowe Warriors volleyball team. Seniors Amanda Martinez and Vanessa Lopez are two of the girls who have readily accepted that challenge and have been crucial as captains, leading the Lady Warriors to a 20-10 record this season.
“We might not have that one person to go to this year,” Canales said. “We are having to look for two or three or four at this point but the girls who have come back – like Amanda and Vanessa – are taking the challenge and have come a long way.”
Martinez is an outside hitter who also transitions at times to middle hitter/blocker. Lopez is a setter for the Lady Warriors.
“They will typically play in summer leagues and usually it’s parents or friends or ex-volleyball players that help with the time. My advice to them though was to practice leadership skills and qualities of a good captain this year,” Canales said. “They competed in a Corpus Christi tournament without a coach and did an outstanding job.”
“I preach to them to be students of the game,” she said. “Not to just go in there to go in. Understand the purpose, the total picture. They are doing a great job right now.”
The season started bright with victories over Laredo United and Edcouch-Elsa. But with so many new players in the mix, the transition game – especially the offense, continues to be a work in progress. Canales said the girls have come along strong and the competition within the team has been beneficial.
“The captains themselves are relaying the message that it’s okay to compete with each other,” Canales said. “I talk about it in practice – that it’s good to have competition from within – that there’s someone there to push each of them. It’s good, healthy competition and it makes us better as a team.”
The Lady Warriors are coming off a strange ending to their game on Thursday against Edinburg Vela. After losing the first set to Vela the match had to be suspended due to air conditioning issues and a floor that wasn’t fit to play on. Vela and Rowe had split two matches previously.
“We are still putting pieces of the puzzle together,” Canales said. “We knew coming in that we would struggle in different areas of the game. Right now it putting that offense and defense together with the different personnel and getting them to play as one – that’s the challenge.”
Rowe has another challenge on Tuesday as it travels to Laredo to take on Laredo Alexander at 4:30 p.m. and San Antonio Reagan at 6:30 p.m.. The teams will have this final week to prepare for district matchups begin onSaturday, Sept. 10.
“This is another great challenge in a season that’s been filled with them,” Canales said. “But the girls are coming through and accepting it. At this point in the season I am very confident that the offense and the defense will come together.”