Sneak preview: Buchanan, Clovis West set for SoCal volleyball regionals

The Fresno BeeMay 26, 2014 

Buchanan's Lake Merchen leads the vaunted Bears' attack into a SoCal regional match Tuesday at home against Dana Point.

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA — Fresno Bee Staff Photo Buy Photo


Tuesday: Second-seeded Buchanan (35-4), competing in a Division I field that has no rival nationally, will play at home at 7 p.m. against No. 7 Dana Hills-Dana Point (19-12) of the Southern Section. The Bears, with a win, would remain home to play the winner of No. 3 Loyola-Los Angeles (24-4) and No. 6 Carson (36-10) on Thursday. Clovis West (17-10), seeded fifth and placed in D-II for regional purposes after finishing runner-up to Buchanan for the Central Section title, will visit No. 4 South Pasadena (27-5-2) of the Southern Section in a match moved up an hour to 6 p.m. The winner will likely go to No. 1 Corona Del Mar-Newport Beach (27-6) on Thursday.

Rankings: Buchanan is No. 3 in the state by MaxPreps and No. 7 nationally by Student Sports. Huntington Beach (36-0), in the opposite side of the D-I bracket, is No. 1 in both of those rankings and has a 2-0 win over Buchanan March 15 in the SoCal's Best of the West Tournament. Clovis West is No. 23 in the state and No. 29 nationally.

Serving aces: Buchanan, which finished second-ranked nationally in 2011 when it won the SoCal Regional, and No. 16 in 2012, has established itself as one of the premier programs in the land under coach John Jay. He's 365-107 in 14 years with the Bears, but has never been stocked with a deeper or taller cast than this one. The team has five players averaging 2.0 or more kills a set in 6-foot-4 Lake Merchen (2.9), 6-5 Ryan Smith (2.4), 6-8 Donovan Mitchel (2.4), 6-4 Wesley Arnold (2.1) and 6-10 Patrick Gasman (2.0). Merchen also has 53 aces. And Gasman and Arnold have 89 and 78 blocks. Ohio State-bound Aaron Samarin, maybe the most valuable of all, has 440 digs, averaging 4.5 per set. And senior David Wiechmann is the table setter with 941 assists, averaging 9.8 per set. ... Clovis West is led by 6-5 middle blocker Trent Braswell, a 2013 Bee All-Star, who has 314 kills, 50 blocks and 18 aces. Fellow seniors Nick Weinberger and Sean Smith have dominated on the outside.

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