MISSION — Fans filled Mission Veterans High School’s gymnasium Tuesday night to catch a glimpse of the Patriots and Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks in a matchup of District 31-5A unbeatens.
But in the end, only one remained perfect in district play as the Patriots took down the Diamondbacks 25-11, 18-25, 25-22, 25-22 to improve to 30-5 on the year and 4-0 in league play.
“It was like a playoff atmosphere. It was undefeated against undefeated and it was a good performance from both teams,” Mission Veterans head coach Diana Lerma said after the win. “We’re happy to see this competition in district.”
After dropping the first set 25-11, Sharyland Pioneer was sparked by the play of Daniela Alvarez as the Diamondbacks battled back to win the second 25-18.
The momentum gained by the Diamondbacks in set No. 2 carried over to the third as Pioneer pushed the Patriots, ranked No. 9 by the Texas Girls Coaches Association, to what seemed to be their limit, but Mission Veterans was ready to up its game.
Mission Veterans seniors Kassy Lerma, Karina Salinas and freshman Ryle Barnett was not be denied as each came up big for the Patriots during the third and fourth sets time and again. Lerma finished with a game-high 25 kills, Salinas with eight and two blocks, and Barnett chipped in 15 and a pair of blocks, as well.
“We saw them fighting more in the second set, so it motivated us to push hard because they took it because they wanted it. We just had to push until we came through,” Kassy Lerma said.
Lerma also had 19 digs and four aces on the night.
Mission Veterans hasn’t lost a district game in over four years, and it remained that way Tuesday night.
“It’s always a rivalry game playing against Pioneer with them being one of the toughest in our district. We really came out and showed what we’re capable of doing this year,” Mission Veterans senior setter and captain Ronnie Cantu said after recording 32 assists and 21 digs.
While Cantu and the senior-heavy Patriots are in pursuit of another district title, their ultimate goal is to put together a deep playoff run that’s evaded Mission Veterans in recent years.
“We have eight seniors on the team — this is our chance to get out of our comfort zone and go where we’ve been wanting to go for a long time,” Cantu said.
Next up for the Patriots is a road game against the Sharyland High Rattlers.
The Diamondbacks (22-11, 3-1) are set to take the court again at 1 p.m. Saturday as they host PSJA Memorial.