Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Abraham Alapizco sets up the ball for Carlos Gonzales during a three-set victory over Edison. Alapizco also recorded 39 assists in a three-set victory over the Sanger Apaches on Thursday.
After suffering a conference-opening loss to Bullard-Fresno, the Madera South Stallions have established themselves as one of the top teams in the County/Metro Athletic Conference with victories this week over Edison-Fresno and Sanger.
The Stallions rebounded from a 3-1 loss to Bullard with a three-set rout of Edison. Madera South outscored the Tigers 75-49 in the victory. Two days later, the Stallions defeated the Sanger Apaches, winners of the last four CMAC titles.
“Aside from the quality of volleyball, it was impressive because of the emotional factor,” assistant coach Nathan Perez said. “We play club with a majority of the guys across the net. To come out tonight and win in three is a great feeling.”
Head coach Steve Guglielmana pointed to Perez as one of the reasons for his team’s success.
“This young man has done a brunt of the load and has been very much involved in developing this team,” he said.
Perez equates the win over Sanger with an earlier season victory over Clovis.
“The Clovis win was nice because we knew the talent of that team coming in,” Perez said. “Sanger is pretty equal. When you have that emotional connection with the team on the other side of the net, it means a little bit more.”
Stallions setter Abraham Alapizco dished out 39 assists. Carlos Hernandez led the team with 13 kills. Javier Arreguin added 10 and Javier Gil and Rigo Pineda each had seven.
However, it was the Stallions’ defense that set the tone. Libero Jael Lopez led the Stallions with 19 digs. Arreguin added 18 and Alapizco had 12.
“One thing that we said coming into the game was that when we are on with our ball control, we are the best defense and passing team in the Valley,” Perez said. “When our defense plays as tight knit as it did tonight, it’s hard for teams to put a ball away. Emotionally, it’s devastating for the other team when they don’t see points on the board. Sometimes it forces teams to get out of rotations and comfort zone to do things to see what works against us. If we stay bulletproof on defense, it doesn’t matter what other teams do to us.”
Both teams knew that the matches were going to be close and both coaches couldn’t have predicted the final result with the Stallions closing out the third set with a 25-9 rout.
Of the first 21 points, 18 were scored by a kill, ace or block. Hernandez recorded two early kills while Larry Cassarubias combined with Gil, Arreguin and Pineda for an 11-10 lead.
After Sanger took the lead, the Stallions got kills from Pineda and Arreguin to take the lead back. An ace from Lopez helped open a 17-14 lead. A Sanger tip kill cut the lead to two, but Cassarubias got the lead back to three with a side out kill.
With Arreguin serving, Gil put down two kills and Cassarubias added another for a 22-16 lead.
The two teams exchanged side outs with Pineda and Gil recording side out kills to get the Stallions to set point. The Apaches hit out of bounds on set point for a 25-18 victory in the first set.
Both teams battled in the second set before Sanger scored five straight points to take a 10-6 lead. However, the Stallions battled right back after a Gil side out kill.
Cassarubias served up five straight points with help from a dual block from Hernandez and Pineda for an 11-10 lead.
After Sanger took a 14-13 lead, the Stallions scored three straight points to take a 16-14 lead. A Cassarubias kill and a Sanger hit out of bounds gave Madera South a three-point lead.
Sanger came back to tie the set at 19, but the Stallions scored three straight points after
a Hernandez kill for a 22-19 lead.
Sanger cut the lead to one, but Hernandez put down a side out kill. After Sanger got the side out, Hernandez recorded a solo block to get to set point, 24-22.
Hernandez then recorded his second straight solo block for a 25-22 victory.
The Stallions took control in the third set. Hernandez had three kills in Madera South’s first five points for a 5-1 lead. Arreguin put down a side out kill and Gil and Cassarubias combined on a dual block for an 11-4 lead.
Gil and Hernandez combined on another dual block. Pineda put down two kills and Hernandez added another as the Stallions opened a 17-6 lead.
Hernandez recorded a side out kill and Pineda served up an ace off the net for a 19-7 lead.
After a trade in side outs, Cassarubias recorded a solo block for a 21-8 lead.
Another trade in side outs led to an Arreguin side out kill. He then put down three straight kills to close out the match with a 25-9 third set victory.