United puts away Nikki Rowe
ALICE — United was looking for a little redemption when they met Nikki Rowe in their Class 6A bi-district game Tuesday night.
The last two meeting between the ball clubs have belonged Nikki Rowe as the Lady Warriors bounced United from the playoffs last season in the regional quarterfinals.
United also opened with a 2-0 loss to Nikki Rowe in their 2016 season opener.
In other first-round playoff action, No. 9 Alexander won in straight sets over Mission while Nixon lost 3-0 to Brownsville Veterans.
"We needed this win over Nikki Rowe," United head coach Lety Longoria said. "They have been haunting us since last year.
Out of the seven losses we had, four were from them. Then we open with a loss (against them). The girls knew what was on the line and they came through."
The Lady Longhorns unleashed an offensive attack at the net that Nikki Rowe had a hard containing to pick up a 3-1 (25-18, 26-24, 15-25, 25-15) victory.
The first-round win gives the school a bi-district title for the fifth consecutive year.
United (31-8, 12-2) moves on to the area championship game where they meet Los Fresnos.
"This is an excellent feeling and I am very proud of all the girls. They came out to play hard," Longoria said. "We played as a team and executed our game plan.
We knew that Nikki Rowe was going to bring its ‘A’ game and they did in the third set, but the girls were able to regroup and come back feisty and ready to throw it down on the court."
Senior Isela Murillo led the way at the net with 16 kills and 19 digs while freshman Lauren Arzuaga added 13.
Violetta Guerrero finished with 10, Gabriela Canavati chipped in with nine and Victoria Howland had eight.
"We knew that they were going to key on Isela and the girls did an excellent job of backing her up," Longoria said.
"We distributed the ball offensively to the girls, and when Nikki Rowe was keying on them, it let Isela free to do what she does best at the net. They all played smart out there and it showed."
United came out swinging with Murillo who started to pick apart the Nikki Rowe defense while Arzuaga picked up her game in the middle of the net.
The Lady Longhorns fought through every point to take an early lead and never let up through the opening set winning 25-18.
"Beating Nikki Rowe was our motivation to pick up that bi-district title," Murillo said.
"We are working to get a step further every season and this is the first step in our journey.
We are in a really good position and fought hard out there on the court. We were well prepared for this game."
The second set saw United in control with Canavati and Guerrero connecting at the net while setters Jazmin Salazar and Daniel Mares continued to feed the duo along with Murillo and Arzuaga.
With United holding a 24-21 advantage in the second set, Nikki Rowe started to make a comeback with Jakelyn Alanis, who helped the Lady Warriors knot up the game at 24.
United weathered the storm and picked up the final two points on a kill by Howland, who finished with eight on the night.
Nikki Rowe (28-17, 8-4) utilized that momentum into the third set to take one away from the Lady Longhorns at 25-15 and force a fourth set.
United recovered and finally started to shake off Nikki Rowe, who hung around for the first 11 points.
Arzuaga led the way with six of her 13 kills to ignite a United comeback that ended with a 25-15 victory.
Meanwhile, Alexander (42-2, 14-0) had no problem of disposing Mission as the No. 9 ranked team in the state swept Mission 3-0 (25-11, 25-12, 25-19) to move on to the area game.
Senior Meagan Menchaca led the way with 13 kills while Fernanda Jimenez and Amber Tran added eight apiece.
Caro Peña finished with 25 assists, 11 digs and four aces and Anissa Davila had 21 digs.
The lone LISD representative, Nixon (24-8, 11-5) lost to Brownsville Veterans 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-14) to conclude their season in the Class 5A bi-district championship.
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