Coyotes battle tough in loss to Knights
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Emily Lopez records a dig to set up the Madera offense during Tuesday’s three-set sweep to the Bullard Knights. Lopez led the team in digs and was all over the back line with diving digs.
The Madera Coyotes girls volleyball team is absorbing some lumps this year in the County/Metro Athletic Conference after winning the league title three out of the past four years.
Head coach Meghan Haas hasn’t had the go-to hitter she’s had in the past, but things are looking up with three of her top four hitters returning next year.
However, in the now, the Coyotes are struggling to find the go-to player and consistency to last through the CMAC. The Coyotes faced an uphill battle against the Bullard-Fresno Knights on Tuesday in Joe Flores Gym, but the Coyotes made the Knights work in the a three-set loss.
“That’s the best we’re going to be,” Haas said. “Bullard is playing well. We did some really good things on defense and some not so good things. We are still trying to find some leadership and trying different people to lean on, which showed a little tonight.”
Alyssa Jimenez and Aliyah Garcia led the Coyotes with six kills each. Zariah Bryant added four kills in the loss.
“I’m happy with a lot of things,” Haas said. “We missed some serves at the end in crucial times.”
The Knights looked to take control of the first set early and jumped to a 16-5 lead before the Coyotes recorded their first kill (Bryant).
The Coyotes began to chip away at Bullard’s lead. After a Jimenez side out kill, Bryant served up three points to cut the lead to six.
The Coyotes had trouble taking advantage of Bullard’s problems at the service line. They missed three straight serves, but the Coyotes only gained one point on a kill by Kylie Bursey.
The Knights got a side out and served up an ace and the Coyotes were called for a double contact for a 25-17 win.
Madera jumped out to the early lead in the second set on side out kills by Bryant and Jimenez and an ace from Morgan Sweet for a 5-2 lead.
However, Bullard put down an ace and two kills to take a 7-5 lead. The Knights added an ace to extend their lead to four.
Garcia recorded a solo block and Emily Lopez served up a point to cut the lead to two. Lopez put down a kill and Lauren Grewal served up an ace to cut the Bullard lead to one.
However, the Knights put down a side out kill and an ace for a four-point lead before a Jimenez side out kill.
Estefania Baltazar served up two points and Bryant put down a back row kill to tie the set at 18.
The teams exchanged five straight side outs before two Madera hits out of bounds gave Bullard a 23-20 lead.
Grewal served up an ace to cut the lead to one, but Bullard got the side out, Jimenez put down a kill to get within one. However, a soft kill by the Knights ended the set, 25-23.
The Knights used three straight aces for a 7-4 lead.
Garcia put down a kill and Lopez put down another kill to cut the lead to one. Two aces and a block gave the Knights a 13-6 lead.
The Knights extended their lead to eight, but the Coyotes battled back.
Bryant put down a kill, Jazmin Rodriguez recorded a block and Bryant served up two aces to cut the Knghts’ lead to 18-13.
After a Jimenez side out kill, Sweet served up three straight points to tie the set at 19.
The Coyotes took the lead after a Garcia side out kill, a Sweet bump kill and another Garcia kill for a 22-20 lead.
However, a missed Coyotes’ serve led to three straight Bullard points for a 23-22 lead.
Bullard got a side out for match point, but hit out of bounds to give the Coyotes the serve. A ball off Joe Flores Gym ceiling gave the Coyotes set point. However, Madera hit into the net for the side out and tie the set.
The Knights closed the set with three straight points for a 27-25 victory.