MISSION — The last name Lerma is rich with volleyball lore in the Rio Grande Valley.
Diana Lerma has won 14 district titles as head coach of the Mission Veterans Patriots and has coached three of her daughters during her time there.
Her youngest daughter, Kassandra, just finished a four-year varsity career playing for the Patriots and under her mother where they put together a 60-game win streak in district play by going unbeaten for four straight seasons.
And if Kassandra Lerma is asked, she has no problem admitting who the best player at Mission Veterans.
“Me and my sisters are always saying, ‘Oh, my year was the best.’ My older sister (Sonia) says that, then my second oldest sister (Gabby) says, ‘No, we were the best,’ and then I’m saying, ‘We’re the best,’ but if you look back on records and stuff, I’m the only one out of my sisters that broke the record (unbeaten in district for four seasons) with my mom, so I feel proud about that one,” the youngest Lerma said. “It’s a lot of competition in the family, every day that goes by, there’s a lot of trash talk, but it’s more motivating each other. It’s very competitive, but we all love each other and it’s a good connection.”
After going 42-6 overall during her senior season when she recorded 862 kills, 210 blocks, 76 aces and a .534 hitting percentage, Kassandra Lerma has been named The Monitor’s All-Area Volleyball Hitter of the Year.
“I’m very proud of her accomplishments. It’s like she said, we’re a competitive family,” Diana Lerma said. “My oldest had two district losses, then my second only had one, so Kassandra had the opportunity to go 60-0 and have those bragging rights. We were so proud of her for that. … Kassandra, not only did she have her hitting percentage, she had her hitting, her blocking, plus she had her service receptions and service aces, so it was a combination of a well-rounded player.”
Kassandra Lerma and a few seniors on this year’s team were tasked with keeping the unbeaten district streak alive. They battled through adversity to accomplish the feat and bring home another district championship to Mission Veterans.
“It’s more playing the game I love, but there was pressure sometimes. When I feel pressure, I just play. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen, as long as you feel like you played your best, and I just tried my hardest,” Kassandra Lerma said.
From her freshman year to her senior season, Kassandra grew into an intimidating force to be reckoned with at the net with her quick, ferocious swings on offense and crucial blocks for her team defensively.
“It feels good because I know my team is depending on me. I have a lot of confidence when I play, that’s why I yell or scream a lot, but you have to have confidence in yourself so other people will start having confidence in you,” she said.
Nobody, however, had more confidence in Kassandra than her mother. While Diana Lerma may not have shown much emotion, she said she always felt the pride inside of seeing all three of her daughters excel on the volleyball court.
“Every parent, they’re looking at one individual on the team. My job as a coach is to take care of each and everyone equally,” Diana Lerma said. “That’s one of the little things I regret, all of the parents come and hug (their kids), but I don’t want to show favoritism, so that’s one of my regrets with all three of my kids, I wasn’t able to express excitement and happiness that I felt after the game because other parents might of thought it was favoritism to your own daughter, but you have your regrets and that was one of my regrets, not being able to tell them how proud I was of them.”
Soon, Kassandra will find a home to take her game to the collegiate level when she signs a national letter of intent to play volleyball collegiality, another moment sure to make her mother proud.