After losing the first set 25-18, Yosemite (31-4, 9-1 NSL), the No. 1 seed in the Central Section D-III volleyball playoffs, won the next three (25-18, 25-19, 25-14) at home Nov. 2, against the No. 16 seed Madera South (11-26).
In the opening set, Madera South, a school with an enrollment of 3,200, doubled-up on Yosemite with a 20-10 lead. Uncharacteristic of the Lady Badgers, Yosemite was making a lot of unforced errors, and the closet Yosemite got to Madera South was five points, before losing 25-18.
“Yosemite didn’t expect us to come out as strong as we did,” Madera South Coach Travis McEowen said after the match. “I think we surprised them in the that first set. They were in shock, but they made some adjustments and after pretty close sets 2 and 3, really took it to us in the last set. We’ve improved a lot over the past couple weeks. I’m very proud of our team for fighting hard to the end against a very good Yosemite team.”
In the second set, Yosemite got out to an 8-4 lead, but the Stallions closed the gap to just two points, with Yosemite still ahead 17-15. With Yosemite ahead 22-18, Yosemite closed out the set with three points, the last on a kill shot by Chloe Duke.
The third set was also close, with Madera South taking a 8-7 lead - the last lead they would have in the game, although the Stallions got within two points again, 21-19.
With the Badgers building momentum, and eliminating the errors, the team quickly had a big lead at 13-3, and rolled along to a 23-7 lead in the fourth set. With the game seemingly out of reach, the Stallions made a run, out-scoring the Badgers 7-1, to cut the lead to 24-14, but that was as close as they would get, with Rachel Loveland ending the set and game with an explosive kill shot.
Madera South junior Aleecia Rosel was the game leader in kills, 14, and point-saving digs, 19.
“We came into this game with a lot of confidence,” Rosel said. “We got aggressive, and then Yosemite got aggressive. We pushed and they pushed back. We’ve worked hard the past couple weeks, and I’m proud of my team. I wish Yosemite good luck in the remainder of the playoffs.
Yosemite senior, and recently crowned Homecoming Queen, Karee Smith, said the lesson learned from that game was to never underestimate a team just because you easily beat them earlier in the season.
“We have to come out strong in our next play-off game,” Smith said. “We can’t underestimate anyone just because our win/loss record is better then theirs.”
Against Madera South, Smith and Sayda Taylor recorded 12 kills each, with Savannah Bohna and Loveland contributing 12 and 6 respectively. Taylor had a double-double on the night, adding 18 digs to her 12 kills, and also blocked 3 attempted Madera South kill shots.
Tiffany Cacy had 22 assists and 14 digs, Samantha Rockey added 16 assists, and Siena Oswald had 14 good receives on serves.
The Badgers played the No. 9 seed Woodlake (18-14) in the playoff quarter finals Tuesday. A win would advance Yosemite to the semi finals round at home, 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 9, against the winner of the quarter finals game between Sierra and Hanford West.
The D-III championship game will be held at the College of Sequoias in Visalia on Saturday, Nov. 11. Time still to be announced.
Minarets and Sierra advance
Both No. 3 Minarets (27-7, 10-0 WSL), and No. 5 Sierra (15-11, 6-4 NSL) will play at home Tuesday in the quarter finals, after defeating No. 14 Dinuba, and No. 12 Edison, respectively on Nov. 2.
Minarets hosted No. 6 San Joaquin Memorial (16-15), and Sierra played No. 4 Hanford West (25-11), on Tuesday.
A win for Minarets would advance them to the semi-finals round against the winner of the No. 7 Reedley - No. 2 Mission Oak game.
A win for Sierra would place them in the semi-finals round against the winner of No. Yosemite - No. 9 Woodlake game.
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