Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera setter Sofia Perez gets the offense started with a dig during Thursday’s sweep of the Bullard Knights.
Composure was the key word for the Madera Coyotes girls volleyball team in a win against the Bullard-Fresno Knights.
The Coyotes climbed out of a seven-point deficit to force a tiebreaker in the first set Thursday night, survived another gritty effort from Bullard in the second set and dominated the third set to win 3-0 at home.
“I’m actually very proud of them,” Madera head coach Meghan Haas said. “It would have been very easy to roll over in both of those two first sets.”
The Coyotes’ experience turned out to be a key factor in helping them stay composed against the younger Knights’ team.
“They weren’t extremely rattled,” Haas said. “We weren’t playing great, but there was a little bit of grit, especially from our seniors. That’s huge.”
Madera blew a 5-2 lead in the first set and found itself trailing 11-6. The Coyotes then broke a long scoring drought with back-to-back points from Brianna Guerrero and Isabella Saucedo, cutting the deficit to three points. With the teams tied at 20, Jade Davie’s serve gave the Coyotes a 21-20 lead. After Bullard responded, Saucedo put the Coyotes back in the lead.
Madera’s Kaci Gonzalez gave her team set point, but Bullard’s Emily Eltrich came back with a kill to tie the set at 24. After a back-and-forth action during the tiebreaker, Madera’s Brianna Guerrero finished it off with a service ace and gave the Coyotes a 28-26 win in the first set.
“Even though we were down like seven points, we never let anyone get ahead of us because we know that we are a better team,” Madera’s Mariyah Alvarez said. “We never got down on ourselves.”
The Coyotes broke a 9-9 tie in the second set and scored five in a row to pull away from the Knights. But the Knights came back to force a 17-17 tie.
After a long rally, Saucedo came up with a kill to give the lead back to the Coyotes. Saucedo scored two more points to give her team a 21-18 lead. The Coyotes then took the set 25-18.
With Saucedo continuing to dominate and strong serving from Mariyah Alvarez, the Coyotes got off to another fast start in the third set.
“I feel like I did pretty well. There’s always room for improvement, but I think I will always be good at serving,” Alvarez said. “We are a really good serving team, so I think that really helped.”
After a Guerrero serve which gave the Coyotes an 18-4 lead, the Knights scored two in a row.
Still, the Coyotes didn’t let their opponents get any closer. Saucedo’s final point of the game give the Coyotes a 24-9 lead. The game then came to an end with a service error by the Knights.
Saucedo finished with 21 kills, while Guerrero added nine for the Coyotes.