October 25, 2022
By Greg SelberClick here for select game photos
The oddest of seasons rolls on, and there are patterns in the air this week. It is really just down to the schedule makers, but it still makes for some interesting moments, as EHS and North have been shadowing each other all autumn, in football and volleyball too. They split the series at the nets and will play a third bout Friday, starting about 90 minutes before the football squads get together to see who will take the penultimate step toward a 31-6A grid title.
Of course, the Bobcats still have to play the Bears in football, just as it shook out in volley, so nothing is determined in full. The Bears have been the MacGuffin in 2022, no doubt, that object or device in a literary work that is the fulcrum upon which the action turns. Think Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” of 1954.
That the Lady Bobcats and Lady Cougars are slugging it out for second place – 6 p.m. serve time at EHS Friday – makes sense, as the two have run side by side through the campaign. North won the first fight in a 5-set thriller, only to see EHS come back for a surprising sweep in the second round matchup, less than a week ago. On the final night of the regular season, North defeated Econ at home while the Lady ‘Cats were losing in the Tri Cities. To complete the pattern, after this week’s Rivalry football showdown, North finishes with the Jags while EHS will tackle … yes, Bears.
So for the second time in six days, the original two volley Cats will square off, both coaches churning into the rubber match ready to adjust on the fly. For Match Two, EHS made some slick moves in positioning and personnel, and was able to slow down the North hitters; what sort of changes will be seen Friday? Sometimes you tweak something and it works, only to find that the opponent has now adjusted to your adjustment and tweaked as well. It gets complicated. Who will make the final adjustment, the one that wins the day? Back to square one in a way.
What is not complicated is the prize, as the second place finisher gets a third place foe in bi-district. Of course, that too has become weird right now, because down in the Lower Valley, witness a slight disruption to the standings. Los Fresnos, considered by many to have been the Valley’s best sextet for most of the season, has fallen behind Harlingen now. In fact, the Lady Cardinals clobbered the Lady Falcons Tuesday to clinch the league crown. Neither team played the Lady Bears in district, obviously, though Harlingen beat them in non-district while Los Fresnos went 1-2 against the 32-6A champ. Guess P-SJ-A is legit.
Looking ahead past the seeding playoff match Friday, the postseason awaits, with both rivals in and seeking some spoils. EHS (25-11) saw a 4-game winning streak end at P-SJ-A Tuesday, while North (23-11) stopped a 2-game slide by beating the Lady Jags in three, the same night. The Lady ‘Cats dropped preseason contests against both Los Fresnos and Harlingen, while they beat Brownsville Rivera, the third place squad from 31-6A and a possible bi-district opponent. If EHS wins, it will take on the Lady Raiders, North getting Los Fresnos. The Lady Coogs (23-11) defeated Rivera this season but was 0-3 against the two top teams in that loop.
And then there’s Econ, who has won 15 times in 2022, its best showing in some time. However, Tuesday’s debit at North means that the Lady Jags, attempting to get back to the playoffs for the first time in a decade, will also be busy Friday. As the Jag footballers are at La Joya, trying to stay alive in the race, the volley gals will be at home, tipping off against Mission at 5 p.m. Those two, Econ and Mission, finished tied for the fourth spot in 32, after the Lady Eagles got even with the Orange in a rematch last week.
Coach Christina Soto’s East Side unit was holding onto third for a long stretch before a late Mission rush catapulted the Lady Eagles back into the hunt. The winner of the playoff seeding bout will draw Harlingen, the hottest team in the RGV as of late, but bottom line: in is in.
By the way, down in 5A, Vela has shuttled along against the bevy of top teams, and recorded an outstanding late-season result, downing perennial power McAllen High recently. Apart from their sister schools in 6A, the Lady SaberCats have battled well enough, but will sit the postseason out.
Meanwhile, the 6A district season took forever to get here, but once on the scene it’s proceeded to produce its share of drama and surprises. More Friday.