Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
The Madera South Stallions boys volleyball team celebrates a point during Tuesday’s five-set victory over Madera.
It took five sets to decide the rivalry match up between Madera and Madera South in a County/Metro Athletic Conference boys volleyball match.
After winning the first two sets Tuesday at Madera South, 25-21 and 25-19, the Stallions looked to be in control.
However, with their backs against the wall, the Madera Coyotes battled back, winning the third and fourth sets, 25-22 and 25-20.
The fifth set only went to 15, but it seemed like it lasted longer than any set prior. The intensity was ratcheted up, everything was on the line.
After dropping consecutives sets, Madera South head coach Steve Guglielmana touched on his teams mindset heading into the pivotal set.
“It was really hard to know because we have a young team and that’s what we were talking about in that last, fifth set,” Guglielmana said. “When they made a few mental errors without the experience, we thought well, they’re sophomores and they’re playing good. We just left it up to them and they came through.”
Madera’s 6-foot-5-inch senior Brian Garcia was a key cog for the Coyotes’ comeback and in the last set, he almost brought his team back for a come-from-behind win over their next-door rivals. He led all players with 33 kills.
Garcia used his frame throughout the night. Guglielmana relied on his players’ natural talent to make the difference.
Joey Chavez, Brian Zaragosa and Jared Guglielmana combined for 10 digs in the last set, neutralizing the Coyotes’ kill shot.
“There were some kids that stepped up. I think the biggest was Joey,” Guglielmana said. “He had a huge dig at the end to finish the point and we fed off him.”
Madera had won two sets in a row and had the momentum, which made it imperative the Stallions have a quick start to the set and, luckily, Ruben Jaimez was on his game.
His ability to move around the net gave the Stallions momentum early on. At one point, Jaimez rose in the air and delivered a kill that deflected off the net and into the Coyote area. The packed Madera South gym rose to their feet.
The energetic crowd motivated the players for a 16-14 set win. Although, it seemed at times that the two squads were on even terms, the crowd’s enthusiasm for Madera South provided the slightest boost to push the Stallions over the edge for the 3-2 victory.
After the first two sets, the Stallions had all the energy in their corner. Christian Sylvia and Zaragosa combined for 15 kills.
Their activity around the net proved vital for the Stallions’ ability to bother hits, but also get off some of their own. The pair combined 28 kills.
Madera had their chances through the first two sets behind Garcia. He battled against the height and length of the Stallions but couldn’t do it all on his own. He delivered acrobatic kills throughout the night, along with setting up his teammates.
His effort was evident regardless of the outcome.
In set three, the Stallions continued where they left off. Sebastian Moreno opened it up for Madera South with an ace down the middle, which he followed with a second.
Both teams flashed their intent early, but only one team could seize control of set.
The Stallions did just that. Led by Sylvia, Madera South pushed past the Coyotes’ early wave and opened the game up with a 10-6 lead.
Sylvia, once again, showcased his dominant athleticism with a kill down the middle. The Coyotes might’ve been down on the scoreboard, but their willingness to fight never wavered.
Garcia continued his quest to bring the Coyotes back with another dominant kill. His size towered for the net, however when in the air, he was a whole different animal.
His length gave Madera South a lot of trouble, but the Stallions dug deep and relied on their own talent.
“They got some big hitters over there. They were moving the ball around and we just had to play better defense and stay disciplined,” Guglielmana said.
The Stallion crowd reached a fever pitch after Sylvia set up Zaragoza for the kill. The score increased to 15-11.
However, Madera South’s confidence was short lived after a furious comeback by the Coyotes.
A combination of errors by the Stallions and accurate hitting put the Coyotes in the driver’s seat, leading 19-16. Previously down four points, Madera battled back and looked to stun the home team.
The Coyotes put together consecutive good sequences to neutralize the potent Madera South front. Accurate serves, strong kills and flat out hustle brought Madera back into the game.
They took the set 25-22 and only continued their momentum, only down 2-1 on the night.
Madera continued their momentum with a 25-20 win in the fourth set. After fighting back in set three, the Coyotes found themselves on an upward trend and surprised the Stallions once again.
Not to mention Garcia who continued to dazzle both the Stallion and Coyote crowd with his dynamic play around the net.
The Coyotes had shown two drastically different sides on the night. On one hand, they couldn’t seem to get the ball over the net, but other times they would score three or four points in a row with ease.
The first two sets the seemed like ancient history for Madera in sets three and four. They turned the game on its head after being down two games.
Though, coming back from that large a deficit against a team like Madera South wasn’t going to be easy and in the fifth and final set, the Stallions distanced themselves from Madera, securing a tense, 16-14 victory.