Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Isabella Saucedo blocks a San Joaquin Memorial attack during Tuesday’s three-set victory that clinched the Coyotes at least a share of the CMAC title.
In a battle between the top two teams in County/Metro Athletic Conference, the Madera Coyotes girls volleyball team swept the visiting San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno Panthers on Senior Night in Joe Flores Gym.
With the win, the Coyotes improved to 8-1 in CMAC, while dropping the Panthers to 7-2 with one match remaining. Madera has reeled off eight straight wins after a CMAC-opening loss to Madera South.
“I really didn’t know what to expect at the start of the season, but they exceeded my expectations for sure,” Madera head coach Meghan Haas said. “Tonight, it was just great team play and it was really fun to watch.”
The Coyotes took a 9-8 lead in the first set and extended the gap to three points after consecutive kills by Isabella Saucedo.
Memorial fought back to force a 17-17 tie, but Saucedo added two more kills to give her team a 19-17 advantage. The junior continued to dominate the rest of the set, making a block to give the Coyotes a 23-18 lead, then recording another kill to help her team win 25-18 in the first set.
“We looked at film from our past game with them and we tried to figure out what we need to work on,” Madera’s Brianna Guerrero said. “We worked so hard and I’m really proud of my team.”
Guerrero was responsible for fueling the Coyotes’ comeback effort in the second set. With the Coyotes facing a four-point deficit, Guerrero scored back-to-back points to cut the deficit to two points.
After the Panthers built the lead back to four points, a service error made the score 22-19. Guerrero then came up with a kill to bring the Coyotes within two.
The Panthers followed up with a net error and saw their lead shrink to one point. Guerrero forced a 22-22 tie, then scored the final point to give the Coyotes a 25-22 win in the second set.
The Coyotes held an 11-5 lead in the third set, but the Panthers clawed back to cut the advantage to two points. Saucedo ended the Panthers’ momentum with back-to-back points, giving the Coyotes a 14-10 lead.
After a net error by the Panthers, Saucedo tallied another kill to make it 16-10. The lead grew to seven points after another block by Saucedo. Guerrero continued her strong performance in the late stages, recording another kill to make it 24-16, then scoring the final point to give Madera a 25-17 win.
Saucedo led the Panthers with 20 kills, while Guerrero added 10.
“We had to reset after every set and refocus,” Haas said. “We had to fight for every point. In the first two sets, every point was important. That was kind of the mentality we had.”