McAllen Rowe’s Alanis earns Player of the Year

Warriors junior Jackelyn Alanis is The Monitor’s All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year.

McALLEN — When Jackelyn Alanis’ phone rang on Dec. 9, she was initially unsure why McAllen Rowe coach Magda Canales was calling. Then, Canales gave her the news: Alanis had won The Monitor’s All-Area Player of the Year award.

“I remember feeling, ‘Wow,’” Alanis said. “It’s an honor. I knew that I had done so much this year, but I never expected to receive Player of the Year. There are a lot of good girls out there, even if it’s not from our school. To receive the news was amazing. I told my mom, and she started hugging me so much. We were happy with the news.”

Alanis spent her freshman year at PSJA High before transferring to Rowe in 2016. After leading the Warriors in kills (478) and aces (39) as a sophomore, Alanis blew those marks out of the water during her junior year. Her 811 kills and 60 aces were big reasons why Rowe captured a district championship and a Sweet 16 appearance in the UIL Class 6A state playoffs.

“My mentality was to be focused, take the game point-by-point and stay calm,” Alanis said. “If we got a kill, I’d go, ‘OK,’ and move on. It’s in the past. Keep going.

“I thought back to last year (2016) and how far we could have gone instead of losing bi-district. I wanted to take this team farther than we ever could, because we could have done it last year. This year, we were going to do it. We were going to push harder and work harder than we ever have, because I knew we had it in us. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. I’ve motivated them to keep going, and they’ve motivated me to keep going as a leader.”

As one of four underclassmen on the Warriors’ roster, Alanis made a plea to the team’s seven seniors before the year began.

“I said to them, ‘It’s your last year, and I’m going to do the best that I can for you guys, but I need you guys, because I can’t do anything by myself,’” Alanis said. “They helped me a lot, because without the pass and without the assist, I won’t get the point or rally.”

The intense workload and expectations placed squarely on Alanis’ shoulders weren’t always easy to bear.

“Every time we’d lose, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t over,” Alanis said. “I needed to relax, lead the team and allow them to trust me. If I got down, they’d come down with me. I knew I had to stay up, and when I did, they were up with me. We came out rolling together with the momentum that we had.”

“Having Jackie as a part of our team is a tremendous asset for us,” Canales said. “Not only does she bring skill to the court, but she also brings energy and confidence. She’s worked very hard to get where she’s at during the season and the offseason. She’s a part of the track team, as well, so she isn’t a one-sport athlete. I’m sure being on the track team helps her with the stamina required on the volleyball court.”

With Alanis’ help, Canales coached the Warriors (35-8) through two preseason tournament championships and put together a 4-1 record against sister schools McAllen Memorial and McAllen High.

“Jackie is not only an outstanding athlete, but she’s an outstanding person in general,” Canales said. “She has no problem setting up the nets or even smaller things that we can’t fix. She’s always saying, ‘Let me fix it.’ She’s very assertive in a positive way. She’s also the type of player that will not hesitate to make a play. During crunch time, she’ll tell her teammates, ‘Give me the ball. I’m going to put it away for you.’”

In a season during which the Warriors competed in the Regional Semifinal round of the UIL Class 6A playoffs last month on Rowe’s home floor, Alanis’ most memorable moment occurred shortly before the postseason began.

“It would have to be the (Oct. 24) game we had against Memorial for the district title on their home floor,” Alanis said. “Everything came down to that game to see if we won or we didn’t. It was super intense, but I knew we had it in us, and I had it in me, to push through that game and prove we were the better team overall.”