Just some thoughts on the the third meeting of 2008 between Burges and El Paso's volleyball teams.
Burges had beaten the Tigers twice this season before El Paso finally got the Mustangs, 25-27, 25-23, 20-25, 25-18, 16-14, on Tuesday (Oct. 14, 2008) at home.
Perhaps the one thing that stands out in my mind is the controversial call on Burges hitter Julia Lopez that changed the outcome of this game.
With Burges up 14-13 in Game 5, Lopez blocked a shot hard onto the floor for what appeared to be the match-winner.
Burges immediately erupted into celebration, until ...
An official said Lopez's stomach touched the net on the block attempt, which tied the match 14-14.
El Paso got an ace and a kill to earn the victory and a tie atop the District 1-4A standings with Burges at 9-1.
From the angle at which I was sitting at the scorer's table, I couldn't quite see whether she had touched the net, but I didn't see anything unusual with the block.
After seeing the TV replay shortly afterward, courtesy of the MetroSports crew of Time Warner Cable, I thought it was clear that Lopez did not touch the net at all.
The tall, lean girl doesn't have much of a stomach to begin with, and the slow-motion replay was pretty convincing to me.
Mustangs head coach Connie Vaughan clearly disagreed with the official, while Tigers head coach Joe Morales had this to say about the call:
"He (official) didn't hesitate. The call was made right away. I didn't see it. ... I don't know if she (Lopez) did or not. Some people said she did, some people said she didn't."
To me, it was a bitter end to a courageous evening for Lopez, who finished with 31 kills despite playing on an injured hitting hand that was taped. It was her first match in two weeks, and she overcame a slow start and was accurate and aggressive in the final three games.
In typical Lopez form, she was clutch in key moments, like when she scored four of Burges' final six points during a 6-1 run to win the first set.
Across the net, Victoria Maese and Stephanie Brown were simply golden for El Paso. The hard-hitting, on-target duo combined for 61 of El Paso's 65 kills and had Burges scrambling all evening.
In particular, I liked how intelligent these girls were. They knew where to place the ball, and their angled hits were fun to watch.
Maese scored the game-winner, a hit that kissed the backline, and Brown showed her versatility by also registering 35 digs.
Other girls who caught my eye were the setters, Kassie Martinez of Burges and Chanah Schwartz for El Paso.
I would have to say they are two of the top setters in town, as each displayed soft touches and was alert at all times. They showed a keen sense of where to be on the court and where to deliver the passes.
Schwartz (54 assists) made it look sooooo easy, while Martinez (53 assists) managed to get near-perfect sets whether she was off-balance, lunging for a pass, or hitting the ball with one hand. Phenomenal stuff.
Then there was Burges blocker Ashley Harris (9 kills), who I would've like to see get the ball more. Standing a sturdy 6-feet, her hits were nicely angled down and came at freight train speed.
Burges' libero, Aminah Orozco (13 digs, 2 aces), impressed me with her low, hard-to-handle serves. They were a big reason why Burges was able to piece together an astounding 13-2 run - which included 11 consecutive points - and come back from a 16-8 deficit in Game 3 to eventually win.
In looking back, this perhaps was the most entertaining and unpredictable match I've seen all year. Riverside-San Elizario, Part 2, was good (5 sets, Rangers won), and Franklin-Coronado, Part 1, was a four-gamer won by Franklin that lived up to the hype. But in one of El Paso's most heated, entertaining, long-standing and back-and-forth volleyball rivalries, fans certainly got their monies worth. I know I did - controversial call and all.