Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Aleecia Rosel hits from the back row during Thursday’s loss to the Edison Tigers. She led the Stallions with seven kills.
Before the season started, first-year Madera South Stallions girls volleyball coach Travis McEowen knew he was going to have a young team.
The Stallions opened the season with three seniors and four juniors among 13 players on the roster. However, going into Thursday’s County/Metro Athletic Conference match with Edison-Fresno, the Stallions were without all three seniors and started five sophomores.
Both returning starting seniors — Lanaye Brewer and Kylie Edelbacher — were unavailable for the match because of illness and the other senior is no longer with the team.
Because of the loss of experience, McEowen changed his approach to Thursday’s match, which the Stallions lost in three sets.
“Just to have fun tonight,” he said. “We wanted to just go out together and play as one. The coaches were very pleased. We discussed it that after Tuesday’s and tonight’s loss, we were okay with tonight’s loss because they played well together, battled and had fun.”
Despite the inexperience, the Stallions were competitive with the more experienced Edison Tigers. Lone returning starter on the court, Aleecia Rosel, led the Stallions with seven kills and added 15 digs.
Freshman Kiara Alvarado had five kills and sophomore Taylor Rogers added five.
Alejandra Barranco led the Stallions with 19 digs while Oliva Molina had 11 and Ruth Castillo recorded 18 assists.
“They actually surprised me.” McEowen said. “Anything can happen when you put a group of girls together who are enjoying themselves. These girls got an opportunity and rose to the occasion. We were really pleased about it. Nothing is shocking anymore.”
The Stallions lost by a combined 16 points over the three sets.
“We, as a coaching staff, said we were going to be relaxed tonight and let them do their thing,” McEowen said. “The mentality of tonight was to play well, have fun and see how it goes.”
After trailing 6-1 to open the match, the Stallions battled back behind side out kills from Rosel, Barranco and Alvarado and an ace from Rogers to cut the lead to 10-8.
However, Edison scored four straight points to open a 15-9 lead. Madera South cut the lead to four behind side out kills from Barranco and Rosel, but the Tigers opened a 19-13 lead.
Rosel served up three straight aces to get Madera South within two. An Alvarado kill cut the lead to 22-19, but Edison closed out the set with three straight points and a 25-19 win.
Edison started the second set with two kills for an early 2-0 lead. The two teams exchanged 10 straight side outs before the Tigers went on a four-point run for a 10-5 lead.
The Stallions got side out kills from Rosel and Destiny Perez and an ace from Ruth Castillo and a solo block from Perez for a 15-10 Edison lead.
Rosel put down a kill to cut the lead to four. After two Edison points, Rosel put down a back row kill, Rogers got a kill and Rosel served an ace to cut the lead to two.
However, Edison got the side out and scored three straight points. After six straight side outs, Edison led 23-18 and closed the set with an ace and a Madera South hit out of bounds for a 25-18 victory.
In the third set, Edison opened with four straight points.
Madera South battled back behind aces from Molina and Rosel and a kill from Castillo to tie the set at six. Edison scored two straight points, but Madera South added three straight after two aces from Barranco.
The two teams then tied at nine, 10 (after a Rogers kill), 13-18 before Edison took a
Side out kills from freshmen Alvarado and Perez kept Madera South within one. However, Edison scored two straight points for a 23-20 lead.
Madera South got the side out, but Edison closed the set with three straight points for a
25-22 win and clinched the match.
Madera South hosts Sanger on Tuesday before traveling to San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno on Thursday.