Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Bianca Guevara works to get a kill past a Reedley blocker during Tuesday’s quarterfinal upset.
Most girls volleyball coaches don’t schedule a tournament with a week left in the season. However, Madera South head coach Travis McEowen did just that and it turned his season around.
The Stallions went 6-0 to win the championship. Since then, they defeated Edison-Fresno and San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno in five sets to close out the regular season. They opened the Div. III playoffs as the No. 7 seed and got with a four-set victory over Highland-Bakersfield and delivering a knockout blow with a five-set victory over No. 2 seed Reedley on Thursday in the quarterfinals.
“After that tournament, we’ve seen a change in the girls,” McEowen said. “The girls really came through. They dug deep. It’s something we’ve been working on this season about getting over the hump.”
The Stallions opened the match with 25-22 and 25-18 wins in the first two sets. They dropped the next two sets 25-23 and 25-22 before picking up a 15-11 win in the fifth set.
“We had a great mentality going into that fifth set,” senior Jacky Granados said. “We’ve been working really hard the past couple of weeks. We work so hard the past couple of years to get where we are. We’re wanted it so we were hungry to get it.”
“It was more about playing a little looser,” McEowen said. “We got a little tight after the first two. They are playing hard, but in the tense moments, we were tight.”
Arelis Chavez led three Stallions with double-digit kills with 19. Bianca Guevara recorded 16 and Taylor Rogers had 11. Guevara added five blocks with three solo.
“As a coaching staff, we’ve been talking about you can pick a new person to come out and have a game of the year,” McEowen said about Guevara’s match. “It’s really fun to watch the girls come to their own and have a breakout game.”
The Stallions continued their run in the Div. III playoffs with a rubber match against No. 6 San Joaquin Memorial on Thursday. The Panthers pulled out a five-set upset over No. 3 Righetti-Santa Maria in the quarterfinals. The Stallions and Panthers split during the CMAC season.
The Pirates got off to a quick start in the first set, leading 8-3 after an ace. Chavez recorded a kill, Guevara had a solo block and Ruth Castillo served an ace to cut the Pirates’ lead to two.
Two Pirates kills opened the lead to five. After a trade in side outs, the Stallions began their comeback. Guevara had a solo block for a side out and Destiny Perez put down a kill for another side out. Chavez put down a kill and Madera South trailed 14-12.
The Stallions stayed within three before taking the lead behind four points from Castillo. Rogers put down a kill in the run for a 20-18 Stallions’ lead.
After a trade in side outs, Guevara put down a kill for a 22-19 lead. Reedley got the side out and tied the set at 22.
Guevara put down a kill for the side out. Off an assist from Castillo, Aleecia Rosel put down a kill for set point. Reedley was called for a four-contact violation after hitting the ball into the net for a 25-22 Madera South win.
Madera South jumped to an 8-1 lead in the second set. Chavez put down two kills in the run while Rogers and Guevara and Castillo delivered aces.
Reedley battled back to cut the lead to three before the Stallions scored six straight points.
With Kiara Alvarado serving, Rogers recorded a solo block. Guevara put down a tip kill, Chavez put down a kill and added another using her left hand. Guevara added a tip kill for a 20-10 lead.
Reedley battled to score eight of the next 12 points to cut the Stallions’ lead to six before a Granados dump kill for set point. Reedley put down a kill, but was called out of rotation to give the Stallions a 25-18 second set victory.
Madera South got off to the quick start in the third set behind two kills from Chavez, kills from Rogers and Perez and a Rosel ace.
However, Reedley scored 10 of the next 14 points to take an 11-10 lead. Kills from Rosel and Chavez gave the Stallions the lead back.
Reedley scored the next four points to take the lead it wouldn’t relinquish. An ace opened the lead to four, but the Stallions kept cutting it to two behind two Guevara side out kills and one by Rogers and Granados. A Chavez kill cut the Pirates’ lead to one and a Rogers and Perez dual blocked tied the set at 23. However, Reedley got the side out with a kill and closed the set with an ace for a 25-23 win.
Reedley took the early lead in the fourth set, but kills from Guevara and Rogers tied the set at seven. A Rosel kill gave the Stallions a 10-9 lead, but Reedley took a 13-12 lead.
The Pirates used two aces for a five-point run to take an 18-13 lead.
Rosel got the side out and Chavez put down two solo blocks to cut Reedley’s lead to two. Castillo served the Stallions to within one, but the two teams exchanged five straight side outs to give the Pirates set point.
Reedley put down a kill for a 25-22 win to tie the match and force a fifth set.
“When we were up two, it was great,” Granados said. “When we were down two, we knew we had to give it our all in the fifth set.”
Chavez opened the fifth set with two side out kills. With Alvarado serving, the Stallions went on a five-point run for a 7-1 lead. Guevara and Chavez combined on a dual block, Guevara put down two kills and Chavez recorded a solo block in the run.
Reedley got the side out and added a kill. Chavez put down a side out kill and Rogers added another for a 9-3 lead. The Pirates got an ace to cut the lead to four. After a trade in side outs, Reedley scored three straight points for a 10-8 Stallions’ lead.
Both teams exchanged seven straight side outs. Guevara, Granados, Rosel and Chavez put down side out kills to get to match point. After a long rally, Guevara put down a kill off the Reedley defender for the 15-11 win and the match.