Vitals: Clovis West, senior, outside hitter
He’s qualified because: Most Valuable Player of the Tri-River Athletic Conference, the Central Section's premier league. His numbers are outlandish: 319 kills, 41.7 hit percentage, 43 aces, 255 digs, 33 blocks and in on 1,024 points.
He said it: “Teams spent a lot of time preparing to stop Kyle. In spite of that, they couldn’t. He got quiet numbers that sneak up on you. That’s because of the efficient way he played.” — Clovis West coach Bob McCarthy.
A severe knee injury took away Kyle Peterson’s junior season. So what did the 6-foot-1 senior do to make up for lost time?
Peterson packed two years of brilliant play into one for Clovis West High, earning him The Bee’s Boys Volleyball Player of the Year award.
“Kyle was the catalyst of our team. He did everything in his power to graduate with a Valley ring,” Golden Eagles coach Bob McCarthy said. “He was driven. That year away made him super hungry.”
This season, Peterson was the heart and soul of a Clovis West team that went 35-2, won the Central Section Division I championship and reached the semifinals of the Southern California Regional.
“I wanted to get back so bad to make this my best year,” said Peterson, the Tri-River Athletic Conference MVP who put away 319 kills for a .417 hitting percentage. He also had 255 digs, 33 blocks, 43 aces and was in on 1,024 points.
Peterson was an X-factor coming into this season. As a 5-7 freshmen, he played setter. The next year he moved to defensive specialist. The summer before his junior year, he had grown to more than 6 feet and switched to outside hitter, but he suffered a year-ending torn knee ligament during play that summer.
It took six months of rehabilitation and three more months of intense workouts on his own before he could return to 100% efficiency.
“I hit the gym, did leg lifts, biking, walking, everything to get back in shape,” said Peterson, who improved his strength and vertical jump to 33 inches.
Clovis West went 18-13 in 2009 and Peterson and the other seniors dedicated themselves to a year of greatness that resulted in rankings of No. 4 in the state and No. 13 nationally.
“Kyle has that inner drive and is devoted to the game,” Eagles junior setter Chris Wong said. “I always knew I could go to him at crunch time.”
McCarthy said Peterson’s leadership helped develop the younger players.
“He was positive with them and still held them to a high standard in practice and competition,” Clovis West’s 12th-year coach said.
“On the court, Kyle got kills, blocks or made the pass or digs to do whatever it took for us to win. There wasn’t one match where he didn’t play well.”
Peterson said he’ll attend Long Beach State next fall and will continue his passion for the sport in some form. He’s just not sure if it will be Division I. He’d have to switch to defensive specialist or libero against much taller opponents.
“It’s been a while since I played the back line, and those guys are really good,” he said. “If I don’t play D-I, the beach courts are open. Beach volleyball. That’s always been a dream of mine.”