Eagles, Tigers perform above the net
EL CENTRO — After realizing many local high school freshmen and junior varsity volleyball programs were not often given the opportunity to travel for tournaments, Southwest High School’s varsity head coach Lisa Hinshaw took action.
Hinshaw worked with the school’s athletic director eight years ago to create a local tournament for Imperial Valley JV teams to participate in. A similar tournament was also created for the freshmen level.
On Friday and Saturday, eight local teams were able to participate in the eighth annual Southwest JV two-day tournament, which Hinshaw considers essential for the rest of the season.
“It comes at a very crucial time because some of them have had one or two league games and they haven’t seen each other whatsoever, so this is a good way for them to measure up the competition and see what other local programs bring to the table,” said the Southwest head coach on the importance of the tournament. “It’s all to make the programs of the Imperial Valley better.”
The tournament, which is held at Southwest High, divides the eight teams into a gold and purple division, with Southwest High, Brawley High, Central High and Holtville High making up the gold and Calipatria High, Calexico High, Imperial High and Palo Verde competing in the purple.
On Saturday, the championship games for each division were held.
Brawley Union and Southwest faced for the gold division championship, after Brawley Union beat Central Union in a close three sets, 25-23, 26-24 and 15-13, and Southwest beat Holtville in two sets, 25-9 and 25-16.
In the gold championship game, the Wildcats came out strong against the Eagles, winning the first set 25-20.
Southwest High’s Skye Rivas explained her team did not allow their bad start to affect them, and she and her teammates came back strong in the next two sets, 25-19 and 15-10, to win the game.
“We just got the energy flowing and played as a team,” said Rivas, a sophomore, on how she and her teammates motivated themselves to get back on top.
“We had a little bit of a late start, but the girls came through,” said Southwest High’s head coach Paola Hernandez, who was glad to see success in her first year at helm of the JV team, as she coached the school’s freshmen program for three years prior.
Though Hernandez’s time leading Southwest’s JV team is new, the Eagles’ dominance in the tournament is not as Southwest’s JV squad has taken the trophy for the past three years.
Keeping the school’s three-year streak going was the main goal before even stepping on the court, agreed Rivas and her teammates Madison Mills, Krystal Alvarez and Cassandra Hernandez.
Southwest’s head coach was confident Rivas, Mills, Alvarez and Hernandez would help lead the team to another trophy.
For the purple division championship, Imperial High faced Calipatria High, after Imperial beat Calexico in two sets, 25-12, 2521, and Calipatria High beat Palo Verde in two sets, 25-19, 25-21.
While the Tigers presented a strong performance in the first set, winning 25-17, the Hornets answered back in a similar fashion, 25-17, to win the second game.
In the third game, Imperial struggled to find their grove on offense, often falling behind Calipatria. It wasn’t until the Tigers came back with a score of 10-9 midway through the game that a trophy was in their grasps.
“We’re all one big family and we just brought each other up,” described Imperial High’s Jade Caro on how her team motivated themselves to get back on the scoreboard.
“I just told them they’ve got to dig deeper and find it within themselves to pick each other up and want the game more than the other team. I just think they finally figured it out and they thought, ‘we have to push and win,’” said Imperial High’s head coach Maryann Jarvis.
Imperial then went on a five unanswered point streak to end the third game, 15-10, and win the purple division trophy.
“We could’ve played a little better, but we poured our hearts out,” said Jade, a sophomore, who was co-captain for the team along with her teammate Hannah Cartee.
Despite a few mistakes on the court, the Imperial High head coach was proud of her team’s winning performance.
“I hope this taught the girls that we can obviously do well enough, and we should just use this to push ourselves the rest of the season. We’ve seen everybody and we see what they’re capable of, so we’re just going to work harder to be able to meet that level of play and surpass their level of play,” stated Jarvis.
Calipatria High’s Anelise Amezcua attempts to hit the ball back over the net during their game against Imperial High in the annual Southwest JV tournament held at Southwest High in El Centro on Saturday afternoon. Imperial beat Calipatria in the purple division championship game. VINCENT OSUNA PHOTO