Stallions advance in playoffs
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Danae Prudente rises up for one of her team-leading 13 kills in Tuesday’s first-round playoff victory over the Dinuba Emperors. She also had a team-leading 26 digs.
Although hoping for a higher seed, the No. 6 seeded Madera South Stallions advanced to the second round of the Div. IV playoffs with a four-set victory over No. 11.
The Stallions put away the pesky Emperors, 25-22, 25-16, 19-25, 25-21, to advance to Thursday’s quarterfinal match in Visalia against No. 3 Golden West.
“We have to work on some communication issues,” head coach Travis McEowen said. “We made the easy plays look hard and hard plays look easy. You have to give it to Dinuba for putting us in those situations where it was between two or three people and we looked at each other. I was proud of the way our girls responded in the fourth set. It took a little bit, but they finished on a good run.”
Madera South was the only County/Metro Athletic Conference to win in the first round Tuesday.
Danae Prudente led the Stallions with 13 kills and 26 digs. Jazlynn Vargas added 12 kills to go with 16 digs and Veronica Ramirez had nine kills and 22 digs.
“It felt really good to get the win and I can’t wait until the next round,” Ramirez said.
Although the Stallions came in as the higher seed and were hosting Dinuba, it was Dinuba that jumped to the early lead.
Four kills and four Madera South errors led to an 8-0 lead in the first set. McEowen used his first time out to try to stop the momentum.
“It was a lot of miscommunication and a lot of frustration,” Ramirez said. “It was more of us being nervous and it being playoffs.”
The Stallions got back on their feet and, eventually, outscored Dinuba 25-13 to win the first set.
Prudente served up an ace while scoring two points. Ramirez put down a block to cut the lead down to four. Ramirez served up three straight points, including a Prudente kill to get the lead down to one.
After a Prudente side out kill, she added another with Ellie Morales serving for a three-point run and a 13-12 lead.
Two more Prudente kills gave the Stallions a 15-13 lead. However, Dinuba scored four straight points for a 17-15 lead and it caused McEowen to use another time out.
Prudente stopped the momentum with a kill and served up a point to tie the set.
A pair of Vargas kills tied the set at 18 and 19. Vargas served up an ace and Ramirez put down a kill for a 21-19 lead.
After three straight side outs, Morales recorded a cross court kill for a side out and served up a point for set point. Dinuba got the side out, but a double contact violation gave the Stallions the set win, 25-22.
“For most of the girls, it was their first playoff experience,” McEowen said. “Once the nerves settled, we chipped away, little by little.”
The Stallions got kills from Vargas and Prudente to open the second set. Dinuba stayed in contact with the Stallions until the Morales served up two points with an Anna Kajitani kill and a Prudente kill for an 11-7 lead. Elissa Escobar served up two more points for a 14-8 lead. Dinuba added points before a Kajitani push-set kill. Prudente served up two points with an ace to increase the lead to 17-10.
Dinuba served an ace and put down a kill to cut the lead to four before a Vargas side out kill. A Ramirez side out tip kill led to another Morales kill for a 20-14 lead.
Ramirez got another side out kill and served up a point in a three-point run for a 23-15 lead. Dinuba got the side out, but Vargas got a kill on a dig when the ball hit the net and barely went over for set point. Dinuba hit into the net for a 25-16 Madera South win.
The Stallions looked to jump ahead in the third set with a Vargas ace and a Ramirez kill. However, Dinuba scored four straight points with two aces to take the lead. The Emperors increased their lead with a three-point run and a seven-point run for an 18-9 lead.
Madera South kept battling. Prudente served up an ace and Ramirez recorded a block to cut the lead to 18-13. Vargas served up three straight points with a Ramirez kill to cut the lead to 20-18. Dinuba added to its lead and a missed serve led to a three-point Dinuba run for a 25-19 win.
Despite kills from Prudente and Vargas and an ace from Prudente, the Stallions found themselves in a 6-5 fourth set hole. Vargas served up an ace, but the Emperors fought back to take an 8-7 lead before a Ramirez solo block and a Prudente kill.
Dinuba then scored four straight points with two aces to open a 12-9 lead. After a trade in side outs, Dinuba scored three more points to open the lead to 15-10.
The Stallions got back into the match from there. Escobar served up two aces in a six-point run. Prudente had a kill off a block and Vargas had a kill in the run. After a pair of missed serves, Prudente served up four straight points with two Vargas kills for a 21-16 lead.
However, three straight Madera South hits out of bounds led to a five-point Dinuba run to tie the set at 21.
After Dinuba hit out of bounds for a side out, the Stallions didn’t give the serve back. Kajitani served up a point and Vargas and Morales combined on a dual block for match point. Dinuba hit out of bounds for a 25-21 Madera South victory.