MISSION — Natalie Reyes took a perfect pass from libero Shelby Cavazos and deftly placed a perfect set to Jordan Bravo, who was coming around behind Reyes on what’s called a slide. Jordan went up off one leg in a similar motion of making a layup in basketball and hammered the ball down into an open spot in the defense.
That was one of several impressive plays — from pass to set to kill — Sharyland Pioneer executed in a 25-7, 25-18 win over La Joya High during pool play Friday at the Mission Varsity Volleyball Tournament at Mission Veterans High School.
Friday was the first day of the two-day event. Thirty-two teams make up eight, four-team pools — four pools at Vets and four at Mission High.
Play continues today with the Gold and Silver Bracket games at Mission Veterans, and the Bronze and Ruby Bracket games Mission High. Today’s tournament is a single-elimination setup. The championship of each bracket is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Sharyland Pioneer came out strong, jumping out to a 5-0 and 14-1 lead in the first set behind aggressive serving from Reyes and Daisy Monie and kills from Daniela Alvarez, Samantha Ayala and Thalia Ochoa.
“We’re always trying to work on speed, from the pass to the set to the swing,” Sharyland Pioneer head coach Laura Cavazos said. “Nat (Reyes) has good hands and can put the ball in places for quicks. And we have hitters who can jump and score efficiently and quickly on the quick sets. We’re not trying to be fancy. We’re trying to be efficient.”
Playing a 5-1 offensive setup, Reyes set all the away around in the rotation. The Monitor’s All-Area Volleyball Newcomer of the Year last year said she has grown mentally since last season and is excited about the high-powered offense she has around her.
“We are going into this season with a strong mindset and with a lot of power,” she said. “We had a lot of power hitters and we are trying to work smart. The back row is killing it and getting us the ball in the right spots and that just helps the offense go.”
The Pioneer offense ran smoothly throughout the quick match with Reyes mixing up her sets from quick to outside to back sets, keeping the Coyote defense usually only able to single block. Several times the offense moved so quickly from post to post that La Joya didn’t have a blocker in place, allowing the Diamondbacks free reign to swing at full power.
“Our goal overall is to be unpredictable,” Cavazos said. “If you get too predictable, the other team can camp out on a hitter and you won’t be successful overall on offense. We are trying to run different things out of our serve reception and wherever we can. You can’t do that without good passing and I thought our passing was really good today in the first game.”
Reyes led the team with 22 assists and an ace, Alvarez added six kills, Ochoa had four kills and Bravo added a pair of blocks along with three kills.
“We have a lot of height and ability and we are very versatile,” Cavazos said. “We want to make sure we are putting the team out there that can be the best and most productive for Pioneer. If that means running a 5-1, OK. If it means a 6-2 we just want to make sure we have enough options offensively and defensively.”
If both Pioneer and Mission Veterans, rivals who both went 3-0 in their pool and both play in District 31-5A, win their first match today, they would meet in the Gold Bracket semifinals at 1 p.m.