Courtesy of Christopher Cross
The Madera Coyotes boys volleyball team celebrates winning the final point of the CIF NorCal Div. III boys volleyball championship match after a three-set win over Golden Sierra on Saturday in Joe Flores Gym. It is the first CIF State championship in the school’s history.
The first CIF NorCal Div. III boys volleyball championship game featured female coaches on both side and Rhonda Jefferson’s Coyotes came away with the school’s first CIF State championship.
The Coyotes took control of the match from the start and cruised to a three-set victory Saturday over Golden Sierra-Garden Valley.
In the three matches over the week of the CIF State NorCal playoffs, the Coyotes didn’t lose a set.
“For me, since Valley, it’s been a bonus for us,” said Jefferson, the only female coach in boys volleyball in the Central Section. “The boys really stepped up their play in the past week and played like a cohesive team. We got some great support from the school this week. I’ve never seen our side of the gym as packed as it was. It was really great to see.”
The Coyotes wrestling team won NorCal state championships in the 1950’s, but, at the time, there wasn’t an overriding state tournament. The volleyball team’s win is the first under the CIF State umbrella.
The Coyotes controlled the first set for a 25-18 win and went on a late four-point run to win the second set 25-22. Then, had to sweat through five match points in the third set before finally prevailing 25-21 after a Brian Garcia kill.
“It was hard,” senior co-captain Jose Hordaz said. “There was lot of drama on the team, there was a lot of emotions. In the end, we pulled through, we got the job done and we made history. It feels great to do that at home. There’s no words to describe the emotion and passion and the school pride we gave Madera.”
Garcia, a UC Irvine recruit, and Marcos Ramos led the team with 12 kills each. Hunter Brown added six kills.
“We fought really well on offense and defense,” Ramos said. “The blocking, passing and spiking was successful. It feels great to get it on the home court. We made history for Madera and I feel good about being a part of it.”
The Coyotes’ defense really stepped up against Golden Sierra. The team had six players record more than five digs, led by Ribhi Abdallah’s 10. Brown had eight, Hordaz, Garcia and Charlie Hernandez had seven and Seth Valencia had six.
“We’re a team that, when we’re focused, we can do anything,” Hordaz said. “We came in focused and knew we could wreck. If we had that mentality, we can get the job done.”
The Grizzlies’ Riley Larson led all players with 18 kills. However, the rest of his team combined for 12 kills in the one-man show.
Two Ramos kills got the Coyotes started with the lead in the first set. However, Golden Sierra came back with four straight points to take a 5-3 lead. From there, the Coyotes went on a 10-3 run, highlighted by a four point run with a Brown kill and a Brown dual block with Garcia for a 13-8 lead.
After the Grizzlies cut the lead to three, Chandler Fowler put down a kill and served up two more points, including one of the defensive highlights for the Coyotes. The Coyotes scrambled after a Larson kill. Clemente Flores went crashing into the sidewall keep the ball in play. He scrambled back to his feet and then put down a kill to give the Coyotes an 18-12 lead.
After seven straight side outs, the Coyotes led 23-18 before a Garcia side out kill. Golden Sierra hit out of bounds for a 25-18 Coyote victory.
In the second set, two Ramos kill and a Brown service ace gave the Coyotes a 5-2 lead.
Three Garcia side out kills gave the Coyotes a four-point lead. He served up an ace and Ramos put down a kill to get the lead to seven.
The Grizzlies cut the lead to two despite two Ramos side out kills, and side out kills from Garcia and Fowler. Golden Sierra kept chipping away at the lead and got it down to one before a Ramos side out kill.
Then came Madera’s second defensive highlight. The Coyotes scrambled after another ball and libero Hordaz went to save the ball. His ball had to clear the net to keep the Coyotes in play. Not only did the ball clear the net, barely, but it surprised the Grizzlies that it fell to the floor for a kill.
Fowler served an ace to give the Coyotes a 23-18 lead. After a Golden Sierra side out, the Coyotes got to set point after a Golden Sierra service error.
The Grizzlies got the side out back and added another point before the Coyotes closed the set with a kill for a 25-22 victory.
It didn’t take the Coyotes long to take control of the third set. After a Golden Sierra service error, Fowler served up an ace and Brown put down a kill for the lead.
Another Golden Sierra missed serve led to an Alex Olvera-Gill kill. A Ramos side out kill led to an Abdallah ace and an 8-4 lead.
Garcia put down back-to-back kills to get the lead to four. Fowler and Garcia put down kills after another missed Grizzlies’ serve for a 13-7 lead.
After a Brown kill, Garcia served up two aces to get the lead to six. Side out kills from Ramos, Olvera-Gill and Ali Escheik gave the Coyotes a 21-13 lead.
Abdallah served up an ace to get the lead to nine.
Golden Sierra missed two more serves, the latter giving the Coyotes set point. The Grizzlies kept fighting back, eventually cutting the lead to 24-20 and forcing Jefferson to call a time out. The game was also stalled after it seemed like the Coyotes won the match, but a net violation was called. The Coyotes’ student section, armed with confetti cannons, let it go and the floor had to get cleaned up before action resumed.
After the time out, the Coyotes went to their go-to player. Garcia sent a ball down the line for the match-ending kill to give the Coyotes their first CIF State championship.
Madera 3, El Camino 0
Although the first and third opponent’s of Madera’s run to the CIF NorCal State championship came rather easy, the semifinal match against El Camino-Sacramento had its rough moments.
The Coyotes won the match in three sets Thursday to set up Saturday’s championship match.
Madera held off a late charge for a 25-20 win in the first set and took advantage of momentum to win the third set 25-13. It was the second set that proved to be the difference maker.
It took nine set points before the Coyotes put away the Eagles in the second set, 32-30. El Camino had a chance with three set points, but the Coyotes kept fighting back for the win.
“The second set was scary,” Jefferson said. “Brian was down, Hordaz was down and we battled back. Hunter and Brian slam down kills and we get back into it. The crowd showed up in full force tonight. I didn’t think we would have that good of a crowd because of grad night.”
Garcia led the Coyotes with 17 kills. Ramos added eight and Olvera-Gill put down five.
“They couldn’t pass,” Jefferson said. “They didn’t have any ball control, but they had a hammer on that team.”
After the first rotation of servers, the Coyotes held a 10-7 lead. Garcia put down a side out kill and then served up an ace in a five-point run. Ramos had a kill in the run to give the Coyotes a 16-7 lead.
After a trade in missed serves, Fowler served up an ace and Ramos put down a kill in a four-point run and a 20-8 lead.
The Eagles cut the lead to seven after an ace and two Coyote hits out of bounds. El Camino then scored four straight points to cut the lead to 23-20.
Garcia got to set point with a kill off the block and then put down another kill for a 25-20 victory.
The Coyotes found themselves trailing 9-8 in the second set before Fowler tied the set with a side out kill.
Hordaz went back to serve and, with the help of Garcia’s three kills and a dual block with Brown, went on a six-point run for a 15-9 lead.
A Fowler kill and ace kept the lead at six. A Garcia side out kill and an Escheik kill opened a five-point lead. The Eagles missed a serve to give the Coyotes set point, leading 24-20.
The Eagles got a kill for side out. Two kills, a Coyote hit out of bounds and two blocks gave the Eagles a six-point run and set point, leading 25-24.
The two teams exchanged five straight side outs with the Coyotes getting side out kills from Brown and Ramos on set point.
Garcia put down a kill off an overpass for Madera’s fifth set point, 28-27. After an El Camino side out, Escheik put down a kill for set point No. 7. Another El Camino side out led to a Garcia side out kill for set point No. 8. A Brown side out led to set point No. 9. This time Brown got a chance, saw an open court and tapped a kill down for a 32-30 victory.
The Coyotes took control of the third set when Hernandez served up three straight points with help from Garcia. He put down two kills and combined with Escheik for a dual block for a 10-5 lead.
A Brown kill extended the lead to seven. Brown combined with Ramos twice on block for a 17-9 lead.
Ramos, Olvera-Gill and Garcia put down side out kills to get the lead to 20-12. Hernandez served up an ace for a 21-12 lead.
After an El Camino kill, Garcia put down a side out kill to give the Coyotes the serve they wouldn’t relinquish.
El Camino hit out of bounds with Hordaz serving. Brown and Chandler combined on a dual block for set point. Then, El Camino was called for a lift violation to give the Coyotes a 25-13 victory and send them to the championship match.