Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera's Lauren Grewal tries to get the tip over the block of Madera South's Sophia Lopez during Thursday's five-set victory over the Stallions.
With the Central Section playoffs right around the corner, the Madera Coyotes girls volleyball team couldn’t afford a loss in the competitive County/Metro Athletic Conference.
In the final match of the regular season, the highly-motivated Madera South Stallions sent the Coyotes to the fifth set after taking a 2-1 lead. The Coyotes closed out the set with a 15-8 win to sweep the season series.
“This win was huge,” Madera head coach Meghan Haas said. “Our morale would have been really low. Our goal at the beginning of the season was to go .500, and we did.”
The Stallions played their best match of the season and came six points away from getting a win over their rivals on Senior Night.
“I wanted that fifth set very bad,” said Madera South senior Lanaye Brewer. “It was really good to see the girls play together. They played their hearts out. It helps us with the confidence level that we can beat teams.”
“It was really good to play our best match,” said Madera South senior Kylie Edelbacher said. “It was a good process to see it come through. It was nice to see us go out like this. It was great.”
“This was, by far, the best match of the year,” Madera South head coach Travis McEowen said. “It was a lot of the rivalry. It was senior night. They had a sense to them at the beginning of the day they wanted it. They visualized it all day and left it all on the court.”
The key player for both teams were their liberos (defensive specialists). Madera libero Alexis Carmona recorded 41 digs while Madera South’s libero recorded 35 digs. Nobody on Madera recorded more than seven digs while no one Madera South recorded more than 17.
“Both teams had great plays back and forth,” McEowen said. “The liberos were studs. It was who was going to be who would make the least amount of errors at the end. We fell on the wrong side.”
“I thought they played really well,” Haas said. “We got some pretty good hits out of the middle and they made some amazing digs. Their girls tried a little bit too hard to do something different and we started making errors.”
Madera’s Hallie Page was huge down the stretch sending the Coyotes to a fifth set. She finished with nine kills in the match.
“We are over here trying to get make her mad or make her laugh,” Haas said. “She’s such a sweet girl and loves the game of volleyball, but doesn’t have that tenacity, yet. We’re trying to get her a little more feisty. She’s big, she’s long, she’s got the mechanics down and we’re trying to get her to the next level.”
Katelyn Siegl recorded a game-high 10 kills and Alyssa Burton added eight kills.
Sophia Lopez led the Stallions with nine kills while Brewer had eight and Taylor Rogers added six more.
The Stallions served the Coyotes tough and recorded 17 aces against Madera in the five sets. Edelbacher and Rosel each recorded five aces.
“We talk about serve receive all the time,” Haas said. “We have to be better at serve receive so we have all three options at the net. As a championship team, we can’t set to the same person every time. It’s going to take all six of the girls on the court and it starts with that first pass. If we can’t get that first pass, we’re going to be in trouble.”
In the first set, a kill from Burton and a block by Siegl helped the Coyotes to a 7-3 lead. Edelbacher served an ace and Rogers put down a tip kill in a four-point run to tie the set.
Rogers put down a kill off a Rosel ace and Jacqueline Camacho helped the Stallion take a 9-8 lead.
After a Stallions service error, Priscilla Torres served up three aces in a nine-point run for a 17-9 lead. In the run, Lauren Lund and Alicia Velasco added kills.
The Stallions trimmed the lead to four after an ace from Alejandra Barranco and a solo block from Edelbacher. However, the Coyotes extended the lead to six after a Burton kill and a Carmona ace.
Siegl closed out the first set with three straight kills for a 25-17 victory.
In the second set, Lopez got a six-point run started for the Stallions with a side out kill. Edelbacher served an ace in a five-point run for a 6-1 lead. In the run, Rogers and Bianca Guevara combined on a block and Rogers and Lopez put down kills.
Alicia Velasco served up an ace, but a Brewer kill and another from Kiara Alvarado gave the Stallions an 11-5 lead.
The Coyotes trimmed the lead to one after a kill from Lilly Ascencio, a solo block from Burton and a kill from Burton.
Brewer stopped the run with a kill and then combined with Lopez for a block and a 13-10 lead.
Burton put down a side out kill, but Edelbacher got the serve back with a side out kill.
After a kill from Barranco, Edelbacher served an ace and Lopez put down a kill for an 18-12 lead. The Coyotes scored two points to cut the lead to four. After a Coyote service error, Madera South got kills from Rosel and Alvarado for a 21-14 lead.
Page served up two points to get Madera South’s lead down to four, but Guevara got a side out kill and Brewer put down a kill to get the lead back to six.
The Stallions got to set point, but Siegl recorded a side out kill. However, Brewer ended the set with a kill and a 25-19 Stallions victory.
In the third set, the Coyotes took the early 9-4 lead after a Lauren Grewal ace. The Stallions cut the lead by one with a Lopez kill. Madera South led 11-6 before Brewer put down a side out kill.
Rosel then served up six straight points and sent Madera South into the lead. Rosel started the run with an ace. Then, Barranco, on a scramble dig, recorded a kill when the ball found open court on the Coyote end. Lopez and Guevara combined on a duel block and Lopez put down a kill for a 13-11 lead.
Siegl got a solo block to cut the lead to one.
Madera South added to its lead after a Lopez kill. After a trade in side outs, Lopez served up three aces in a six-point run to get the Stallions a 23-13 lead. Guevara recorded a solo block in the run.
The Coyotes got the serve back with a Sierra Lancaster block and added a point to get within eight.
Alvarado put down a kill and Guevara served up an ace for a 25-15 Stallions victory.
“We struggle under pressure,” Haas said. “We have a couple of young girls with some inexperience. We struggle to find a way to score at times.”
Both teams battled to open the third set. The teams traded 11 side outs in the first 15 points to tie the set at eight after a Rosel ace.
Page put down a kill and Madera scored three straight points for a 12-8 lead.
Edelbacher served an ace, but the Coyotes got the side out. A Brewer ace tied the set at 14 before an Ascencio kill gave the Coyotes a
15-14 lead. Page put down a kill and Carmona served an ace for a 17-14 Coyote lead.
Rogers and Page exchanged kills, but Page and Ascencio added another kill to open a 20-15 lead.
Barranco served an ace to cut the lead to three. However, a missed serve led to three straight Madera points for a
Madera South got the side out after a Lopez kill and Rosel added another point with an ace. However, Page got the Coyotes to set point with a kill and Madera South hit out of bounds for a 25-19 Madera victory.
“We tried our best and put our hearts on the court, but couldn’t pull through,” Edelbacher said. “We kind of got in our heads a little bit. We let them stay in the game.”
Lopez opened the second set with a pair of kills for an early 2-0 lead. The Coyotes were a different team after a time out called by Haas after the kills.
Burton put down a side out kill and Rozlyn Holmes added another to tie the set.
Grewal recorded a kill to start a three-point run. Page put down a kill as the Coyotes took a 7-4 lead.
A Rogers solo block and a Brewer kill cut Madera’s lead to one. However, Madera closed the match by scoring seven of the next nine points for a 15-8 victory.
Madera earned a No. 14 seed in the Central Section playoffs and will play at No. 3 Redwood-Visalia on Tuesday in the first round of the Div. II playoffs. However, Madera South did not make the 16-team field in Div. II.