The Madera South Stallions girls volleyball team gave head coach Travis McEowen his first playoff victory during the first round of the Div. III Central Section playoffs last week, but it didn’t come without some worry.
The seventh-seeded Stallions opened the playoff game with a 25-12 and 25-17 victory in the first two sets. However, 10th-seeded Highland-Bakersfield took the lead and didn’t let it go for a 25-23 third set victory.
The Stallions closed the match with a 25-20 victory in the fourth set to advance to the quarterfinals Tuesday and face second-seeded Reedley.
“We came out and started strong,” McEowen said. “We forced a lot of errors on their side. We played some good volleyball on our side. We kind of got into a comfort zone in Set 3. You have to give it up to Highland with a nice push back.”
Taylor Rogers and Arelis Chavez led the Stallions with 13 kills. Destiny Perez put down six kills and Bianca Guevara added six. Aleecia Rosel recorded all four of her kills in the pivotal fourth set.
“It was good to get that first win,” McEowen said. “It’s been a long couple of years. The girls have been working hard and doing the right thing. They are ready for these games. They were ready for the first two sets. Highland made a push, but we were able to push back.”
The two teams battled back and forth in the beginning of the first set with Madera South holding an 11-8 lead. Guevara and Chavez put down two kills each to keep the set close.
After a Perez side out kill, Rogers served up five straight points behind the service line, including an ace. Guevara and Chavez combined on a dual block, Rogers recorded a back row kill and saved a ball that turned into a point for a 17-9 lead.
After a trade in side outs, Ruth Castillo served up an ace for a 20-10 lead.
Another trade in side outs led to a 22-11 lead with Rogers getting a side out kill. Madera South got the side out and Martha Martinez served up two straight points for a 25-12 victory.
A solo block from Chavez and a Perez kill opened the early second set lead. Side out kills from Chavez and Rogers led to a four-point run. With Guevara serving, Perez put down a kill. Chloe Riddle came in to serve and Rogers put down a back row kill. Riddle then served up two aces for a 10-5 lead.
A Perez side out kill and a Chavez kill opened the lead to seven. A Rogers kill kept the lead at seven.
Chavez put down two side out kills for an 18-13 lead. Castillo served an ace and Perez put down a kill for a 20-13 lead.
Highland scored two points, but Rogers got the side out and served up two aces for a 23-15 lead.
Highland scored two points, but a ball into the net gave the Stallions set point, 24-17. Martinez went back to serve again and Highland hit out of bounds for a 25-17 victory.
In the third set, the Lady Scots took the early lead and held on. A three point run opened the lead. Despite a three-point Stallions run led by a Chavez kill, Highland led 10-9.
Highland scored four straight points to open a 15-10 lead before a Jacky Granados dump kill. Kiara Alvarado served up an ace to cut the lead to three. Another Granados dump kill and a Guevara kill cut the lead down to two. However, a missed serve and a block opened Highland’s lead back to four.
The Scots traded side outs with the Stallions while holding a lead. Highland scored three straight points to get to set point, 24-20. The Stallions tried to make a comeback with the side out. Chavez and Guevara recorded a dual block and Chavez put down a kill to cut the lead to one.
Highland closed the fourth set with a kill on the fourth set point for a 25-23 victory.
“It was just one of those things we played a little tight and expected someone else to get the ball,” McEowen said. “We just missed coverages. It was communication errors that are easily fixed.”
Two Rogers kills and two Rosel kills helped the Stallions to a 9-4 lead. Rogers and Chavez put down side out kill and Chavez recorded a solo block for a five-point lead.
A Castillo ace opened the lead to 16-9. Highland then scored five of the next seven points to cut the lead to three before a Rosel side out kill. Perez put down a kill to get the lead to five.
Rosel and Rogers put down side out kills while the Stallions led 21-17. After a Highland missed serve, Chavez put down a kill for a 23-19 lead.
Both teams traded missed serves to give the Stallions match point, leading 24-20. With Castillo serving, Rogers put down a kill for a 25-20 victory.