Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Lanaye Brewer reaches for one of her team-high 14 kills in Thursday’s loss to Bullard.
The Madera South Stallions girls volleyball team has been close a number of times in the past two weeks to winning a set in County/Metro Athletic Conference play.
Since those set wins become match wins, first-year head coach Travis McEowen is just trying to win a set and then he can concentrate on getting a CMAC match win.
His Stallions took an early lead in the third set on Thursday and didn’t give it up in a 25-19 win over Bullard-Fresno.
“It’s getting the monkey off our back,” McEowen said. “It’s not the whole monkey, but it was definitely some weight. It gave us some confidence and energy. It gave us room to breathe. We were all a little uptight.”
However, the Knights took the first two sets and closed the match with a 25-15 victory.
“We haven’t been able to get over that hump,” McEowen said. “We finally had the chance to put a set away. We came back in the middle of the set, got the lead at the end and put the game away.”
In a never-ending search for the go-to lineup, McEowen shuffled more pieces around Thursday night and may have come away with the line-up of the future. Before the match, McEowen moved Bianca Guevara from the junior varsity to the varsity team. Before the second set, McEowen moved outside hitter Aleecia Rosel to libero and moved middle blocker Lanaye Brewer to the outside and inserted Guevara at middle blocker.
“We moved a couple pieces around,” McEowen said. “We brought up a freshman and move Lanaye out of the middle to the outside and move our best passer to the libero. We have to get that pass first. It was another new rotation. It didn’t look clean, but it was a lot better.”
Those changes helped, especially in the third set when the Stallions got a win. Brewer led the team with 14 kills. Rosel also led the team with 27 digs. Alejandra Barranco had 24.
“We’re going to get better and better and going to grow,” McEowen said. “We started off with some struggles and we’ve seen growth each game. The girls are working hard. That’s all you can ask for.”
The Stallions battled Bullard tough in the first set, taking advantage of three service errors to tie the set at nine. However, Bullard scored nine straight points for an 18-9 lead.
Two more Bullard service errors helped Madera South cut the lead to eight. A Taylor Rogers kill and a Kylie Edelbacher kill cut the Bullard lead to 22-15.
Bullard scored two straight points to get to set point, but hit out of bounds to give the Stallions the serve. Oliva Molina served an ace and Rosel put down a kill to get within six, but the Knights closed the set with a kill and a 25-18 win.
The second set saw the two teams exchange 12 straight side outs with Madera South getting side out kills from Kiara Alvarado, two from Brewer and another from Destiny Perez.
After Bullard opened a 12-7 lead, the teams exchanged seven straight side outs with Brewer serving up an ace to cut the lead to 15-13. After a Bullard side out, Rogers put down a side out kill and Guevara served up three straight points, including a Barranco kill for a 17-16 lead.
Bullard scored two points, but the Stallions tied the set at 18. Bullard then used two aces in a four-point run for a 23-18 lead. The teams exchanged service errors and Bullard put down the final point for a 25-19 victory.
In the third set, the Stallions took the early lead after side out kills from Alvarado, Brewer and Edelbacher. Alvarado served up another point for a 7-4 lead, but Bullard tied the set before a service error.
The Stallions maintained their lead with side out kills from Perez, Alvarado and Brewer.
Brewer added an ace for a 16-13 lead. After a Bullard service error, Rogers served up three points, including a kill from Perez for a 21-15 lead. Barranco served up a point and Brewer added a kill to get to set point.
After Bullard got the side out, the Stallions closed the set with a tip kill from Guevara for a 25-19 win.
In the third set, the Stallions had trouble scoring when they had serve and limited the Knights thanks to three side out kills from Brewer and two from Rogers in a 10-7 Bullard lead.
Rogers served up an ace to cut the lead to one and an Alvarado kill tied the set at 10.
Despite side out kills from Edelbacher and Brewer, Bullard scored eight of the next 11 points for a five point lead.
The Knights closed the match by scoring the final five points or a 25-15 victory. Coyotes get win over Stallions.