In honor of its four seniors, the Madera South Stallions girls volleyball team played one of its best matches of the season for a sweep over the San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno Panthers.
The Stallions, who went 6-0 in a tournament on Oct. 13 and followed that with a five-set victory over Edison, kept their momentum going with a 25-18, 25-23, 25-12 victory on Senior Night. The win over the Panthers was even more impressive since the Panthers defeated the Madera Coyotes in four sets on Oct. 16. The Coyotes had a 20-game County/Metro Athletic Conference winning streak.
“We wanted to come out and play our best,” head coach Travis McEowen said. “Ever since the last tournament, we’ve been peaking at the right time. The girls have been playing hard and playing with energy. It’s really fun to watch.”
“We knew they were ranked higher than us for the playoffs,” senior Aleecia Rosel said. “If we came out and won, it would give us better chances in the playoffs. We pulled through together. It’s amazing. I’m so thankful for my team. To win tonight on Senior night in three sets is amazing.”
Rosel led the Stallions with 15 kills to go with 28 digs. Arelis Chavez had 12 kills and Bianca Guevara added six. Kiara Alvarado led the team with 36 digs and senior Ruth Castillo had 23 digs. Taylor Rogers led the Stallions with five aces.
“We came out at the service line,” McEowen said. “That was our gameplan from the beginning. It took Memorial out of the comfort zone. They sent free balls back. We’ve been working a lot on correcting and perfecting our free ball passes. It was clicking on all cylinders from the court and the bench.”
The Stallions took the early lead behind an Alvarado ace and two kills from Guevara. After a Panthers’ missed serve, Rosel served up five straight point highlighted by two kills from Chavez for a 15-6 lead.
Three kills by Rosel and a side out kill from Guevara opened the lead to 21-12.
Madera South received a point when the Panthers were out of rotation. Destiny Perez made a kick save on a ball and the Panthers hit out of bounds for a 23-12 lead.
After the Panthers got the side out, Rosel gave the Stallions side out for set point with a kill. It took longer than the Stallions would have liked, but on the fifth side out, setter Jacky Granados exploited an open spot on the Panther’s side for a dump kill and a 25-18 win.
The Panthers jumped out a 9-4 lead in the second set. The Stallions began to chip away at the lead. Two Perez solo blocks and two sideout kills each from Chavez and Rosel cut the lead to one.
Rogers, Chavez and Guevara put down kills to give the Stallions a 15-14 lead. Two Rosel kills opened the lead to three.
The Panthers came back to tie the game and reclaim the lead, 21-19, after a five-point run.
The Stallions got the side out and Chavez put down a kill to tie the set at 21. Another Granados dump kill tied the set at 22. Memorial was called out of rotation again for a point. After a trade in side outs gave the Stallions set point, Guevara ended it with a tip kill for a 25-23 win.
In the third set, the Stallions jumped out to the early lead. A Chavez kill and an Alvarado ace started the match. Rogers went behind the line to serve six straight points, including an ace. Rosel had two kills in the run. Granados and Guevara also had a kill.
A Rosel kill opened the lead to 10. The Panthers began to battle back to cut the lead to six before a side out.
Rogers got a kill with a hit off her knuckle and Chavez put down a kill for a 17-8 lead. Chavez added a side out kill and combined with Guevara for a dual block for a 19-10 lead. Granados put down a dump kill for a 10-point advantage.
The Panthers scored two points, but a double-contact violation gave the side out to the Stallions.
Rogers served up three straight aces for match point. Rosel put the final touches on the sweep with her 15th kill of the night for a 25-12 third set victory.