Sharyland Pioneer High School Athletics


The Monitor's 2021 All-Area Player of the Year: Sharyland Pioneer's Natalie Reyes

HENRY MILLER | 12/13/2021

Natalie Reyes wouldn’t mind joining the mariachi group at Sharyland Pioneer.

“I love to sing,” she said before rambling off a line of “Mama” by Siggno. “But I don’t understand Spanish well, and I just don’t have the time.”

What she understands, however, is volleyball. Every aspect of it. The senior setter for the Diamondbacks, as one coach put it, “controls both sides of the court. You can’t fall asleep on her. She’ll make you pay.” That’s something she did well, and often, this season, leading the Diamondbacks to a 37-5 overall record and a 12-2 mark and District 31-5A championship.

She tallied a stunning 1,156 assists this season, surpassed 3,000 career assists and, even with a roster full of hard-hitting and superstar defenders, she was still the one every opposing coach feared and would try to figure ways to get her out of system.

For her performance this season, Reyes has been named The Monitor’s 2021 All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year. She was named Newcomer of the Year in 2018 and Setter of the Year in 2019.

“Sometimes, she would just take over the game, including being offensive this year,” Sharyland Pioneer head coach Laura Cavazos said. “Her serves were very aggressive and she just set the tone for us. Practice, games, it didn’t matter what we were doing. Sometimes, setters have good hands, sometimes they can put up a good, hittable ball and that’s acceptable. But she does everything — defense, serving, blocking and her IQ is just incredibly high.

“I was tough on Nat and I’m thankful to have coached her.”

While Reyes stats were impressive in every category — a team-leading 97 aces, second with 357 digs, 29 total blocks and even 90 kills — it was her knowledge of the game, along with the gifted golden touch that were keys to her incredibly advanced performance this season.

“I really wanted to better my IQ this year, especially with the next level in mind,” Reyes said. “It’s something I needed to improve on and needed to get better at in general. I was able to produce and get better, little by little. I would watch a lot of film, go to UTRGV games or Texas games and watch their mannerisms and decision-making and that helped me be successful in my game.”

Watching Reyes run the show is watching a volleyball maestro at work, making sure the different sections are in sync, producing the best outcome. She uses every set available, pin to pin, but said she especially enjoyed running the C slide with middles Jordan Bravo and Lorelai Hill.

“I loved getting our middles involved and throwing off some blockers on the other side,” Reyes said. “Jordan isn’t a very big celebrator, but this year she would get kills from that and sometimes she would be smiling from ear to ear. That made my year.”

Reyes said the team just “went with the flow,” throughout the year, prepared for when teams tried to take her out of play by sending her the first ball.

“Our libero Lizzy (Fina) and those who played DS (defensive specialist) handled out of system this year and we focused on it a lot,” Reyes said. “This was a fun year. It was fun to continue to better the ball, even if I wasn’t getting my hands on the ball.”

Not getting the ball was rare for Reyes. Early in the season during the Mission Volleyball Tournament she recalls sprinting across the court to track down a ball. After the game, she said, her coach told her that in previous years she wouldn’t have gotten there.

“Yeah, I kept telling her that,” Cavazos said. “She was so fast to the ball this year. I told her that before she leaves, she needs to tell me what she did. Was there a drill? It was awesome to watch. She could get to anything. Somehow she would get a touch on it.”

That was just one example of where her hustle, quickness and IQ all came into play. It was one of many. One video on a social media shows her setting the ball while sitting on the floor. For most, that’s tremendous. For Pionee... Click here to read full article