Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Kylie Edelbacher goes up for a kill against Sanger on Tuesday.
The Madera South Stallions played two competitive sets, but had a shaky second set in a three-set sweep to the Sanger Apaches in County/Metro Athletic Conference play.
The Stallions battled the Apaches had in the first two sets, losing by a combined 50-39. However, it was the second set where Sanger took Madera South out of the game, winning the set, 25-11.
However, first year head coach Tavis McEowen is encouraged by what he has seen in his team that returns just three players from last year’s team — seniors Kylie Edelbacher and Lanaye Brewer and sophomore Aleecia Rosel.
“We’ve come a long way and I keep saying that each week,” McEowen said. “We are just looking one game, one practice ahead. We are focusing on the little stuff like having fun. We’re putting out new line ups every game and they are starting to click. Now they are in this new place and trying to find the middle ground of consistency.”
McEowen was glad to have his seniors back after they missed a week because of sickness and they help get the Stallions to play as a complete team.
“The seniors have contributed greatly, but the young ones have stepped up,” he said. “Having the seniors come back helps us with depth. They are starting to play as one unit.”
However, it was one of the youngest players on the team that earned the gold start Tuesday night. Freshman Kiara Alvarado led the Stallions with nine kills. She was the only Stallion with more than five kills in the match.
“This was probably her best game of the season.,” McEowen said. “We were discussing where to put her in the line up. She played so well in practice that we decided to keep her where she was (outside hitter). She was beating coach on all the attacks. We put her out there and she went to town again.”
The biggest problem for the Stallions was serve receive. The Apaches recorded 13 service aces and had many more play into a free ball to keep the Stallions from attacking.
“Serve receive has been our struggle,” McEowen said. “I have to give it up to Sanger because those are hard serves. We haven’t seen jump servers blast balls like this. We’re going to work on this.”
The Stallions took the early lead on the Apaches after a kill from Aleecia Rosel and another from Alvarado, off an assist from Oliva Molina, for a 6-4 lead.
Two Alvarado side out kills and a service ace led to a 9-6 lead.
However, the Apaches came back to tie the set at 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 before taking a 16-14 lead after an ace.
Sanger extended the lead to three before Destiny Perez put down a kill and Alejandra Barranco served an ace to get the lead to one.
Alvarado put down a kill and Taylor Rogers served up a point to get within three. However, a Sanger kill closed out the first set with a 25-20 win.
In the second set, the Stallions took an early lead after kills from Brewer and Alvarado. However, led by an ace, the Apaches took a 7-5 lead before a dual block by the freshmen — Perez and Alvarado.
Sanger extended the lead to three and five after aces. The Apaches then scored six of the next eight points to open the lead to 20-11.
Sanger closed the set with seven straight points, including two aces, for a 25-11 victory.
In the third set, Saner scored the first five points on the backs of two aces.
However, Madera South came back after kills from Rosel and Perez and an ace by Barranco to cut the lead to one. Ruth Castillo served up two more points to tie the set at eight.
Alvarado put down two straight kills for an 11-10 lead. Sanger came back behind three aces to take an 18-12 lead.
A Brewer kill and a Rogers solo block kept the Stallions within six. However, Sanger picked up two side outs for a 23-16 lead and used a kill for match point.
Madera South got the serve back and Rosel served up two more points, including a kill from Edelbacher. Sanger closed the match with a kill for a 25-19 victory.
Madera South plays at Madera on Tuesday.