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Lady Panthers get swept in district opener

Lake Arthur’s Carla Lopez gets ready for a kill in their district opener against Hondo on Tuesday in Lake Arthur. (Alejandra Gonzalez Photo)

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LAKE ARTHUR – The Lake Arthur Lady Panthers fought hard, but eventually fell to district rival Hondo 25-18, 25-19, 25-7 in the district opener for both squads. The Panthers, hosting the annual Dig Pink game and Parent’s Night, played inspired ball in the first two games, but tired and lost in three straight to fall to 4-10 overall.

“This is a big motivator — playing Hondo,” stated coach Tim Shea. “I thought our girls played very well in the first two games. The last game, we talk about how when you’re in quick sand and it’s hard to get out, and that’s where we were in that game. My girls never quit fighting and that’s what I love about them.”

A big crowd saw the Panthers go up early in the initial set 3-2 only to see big Nina Herrera serve up some bombs and give the Eagles a 9-3 lead. The Panthers, still looking for their first district win since 2013, would not die and make a run.

A kill by 8th-grader Carla Lopez cut the lead to 11-7 and then senior Marisol Gonzalez served up some winners to cut the lead to two. The Eagles would take control and started to pull away and a late kill by senior Jazmin Pando was not enough in a 25-18 Eagle win.

Game two saw Pando come out with an early kill and dink to give the hosts the lead. Kelsie Smith would serve two winners to give the Panthers a surprising 8-4 advantage and give the home town fans plenty to cheer about.

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Gonzales would come up big again later with a cross-court kill and another down the middle for an 11-7 Lake Arthur advantage.

The two teams would play evenly with some good attacks and some good defense on both sides. The teams would seem themselves tied at 13-all and, following another Pando kill, at 18-all prompting a Hondo timeout.

Coach Shea was very complimentary of Pando, her senior outside hitter. “Jazmin Pando is one of our big hitters and everything runs around her through our offense. If it wasn’t for Jazmin hitting and blocking we would be in deep trouble.”

The timeout must have worked as the visitors (8-5) went on a 7-1 run to finish off the second set 25-19.

The third set was all Hondo as they raced out to a 10-1 lead and kept the foot on the gas as they dominated and took the sweep with a 25-7 win. The Eagles have not lost to the Panthers since the 2012 season.

The Panthers now regroup and travel to Vaughn next Tuesday. “You can’t write anything off in this district,” stated Shea. “It’s a small district with just Hondo, Vaughn, and ourselves. So, that means we have three games that we can win and once we get that under our belt, we will be ready to go in the district tournament. I think we can do something the rest of this year.”

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