McAllen Rowe’s Jackie Alanis powers her way to back-to-back Monitor Player of the Year Honors

McAllen Rowe's Jackie Alanis, Player of the Year, poses at Pioneer High School on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, in Mission.
Mission — Shutting down McAllen Rowe senior Jackelyn Alanis has always been an enormous task. Even when opposing teams knew her shot was coming, not just any defense was equipped to stop Alanis from her own agenda.

Even after three years of previous success, for the Nicholls State commit, nothing came easy in 2018.

“It’s hard sometimes to know that you’re the only one,” Alanis said. “That your teammates are on your back for you to put it away. But at the same time, I take it as a compliment because I know that my team needs me to step it up and lead the game.”

Alanis entered the season without any returning teammate that had more than 100 kills in a season. Her season kills increased for a fourth straight season, out of necessity.

“Every time they set me the ball I knew I had to put it away and every time I put it away it was a super hyped feeling,” Alanis said. “It’s the best feeling when you put a ball away on one of your opponents. Especially if it’s a super good game. All the energy comes up and brings up your team in general.”

She finished with 890 kills overall (8.1 per set) and guided the Warriors into a tie for runner-up in 30-6A with McAllen High, behind undefeated McAllen Memorial.

Even at 5-foot-9, height doesn’t tell the entire story for Alanis. She said her training outside of school has been focused on getting her as high into the air as possible. She now claims a 33.1-inch vertical.

“My coach Ryan Richardson always had workouts for me every summer,” Alanis said. “I would go twice a day in the summer, Monday through Saturday. I’d go in the morning from 8-12 and at night 7-10. Every workout was another workout for my vertical. My freshman year I was hitting 25 (inches), sophomore year around 27.”

After transferring from PSJA High following her freshman season, Alanis broke out at Rowe under coach Magda Canales. With talent like Brittanie Best and Mayda Garcia just a few years removed from the high school, the veteran Warriors coach had seen a long line of players excel as a power hitter in her offense; Jackie fit right in.

“With all the hitters that I’ve had the opportunity to work they all come into me with those qualities that make an outstanding player,” Canales said. “All those players were always eager to go or ready to go, go the extra mile. Their body language, what they were doing on the floor would tell me they were ready for more.”

By virtue of playing in the Rio Grande Valley’s most competitive volleyball town, she will be remembered and measured by her performance against Rowe’s sister schools, McHi and Memorial.

After helping the Warriors to an outright district title as a junior, it was a much tougher road as a senior. Alanis had 39 kills as Rowe beat McHi in the first regular-season meeting Sept. 9.

The Warriors were held winless against Memorial and dropped their second regular-season match against McHi. Alanis still hit home 60 points in those three matches. She averaged 24.75 kills in district competition.

“It was a special time because I played with all these girls, the people from Memorial and McHi, I played club with them and on a team with them,” Alanis said. “It’s always fun knowing that your friend or teammate you’re playing against them now, they’re your rivals now. It’s fun when you’re going at each other, but you know it’s whoever wants it more.”

Alanis’ high school career ended Oct. 30 when the Warriors fell to Laredo United in the bi-district round. She recorded 21 kills wearing the iconic Rowe No. 6 for a final time.

“Four years in high school went by really fast,” Alanis said. “I didn’t expect them to go by fast, now it’s over. I’m really grateful for these years.”

She avoided any drama during her senior season regarding college recruitment by having her decision ready prior to the fall. Alanis will take her talents to the bayou country and Nicholls State in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

“I think college ball is going to be a super exciting experience because it’s going to be different,” Alanis said. “It’s like going back as if I’m in high school as a freshman, now I’m going to be a freshman in college. Everyone’s going to be older than me. You’re going to be expecting all those big hits and everything but I’m going to go out there and show them that even though I’m a freshman going into college, I can do big things on the court.”

Alanis will move on and undoubtedly leave a void for the Rowe program as they try and mold the next crop of Warriors to continue the tradition.

“It was a great experience coaching somebody like Jackie,” Canales said. “A kid that is full of energy. A player that is always wanting to make the play for the team. Those are things I look for in players. When I see those qualities I target that and I know that those kids are capable of giving us more, so we push them to the limit.

nmata@themonitor.com