Buchanan High took the volleyball court for the first time as the No. 1 seed in the Division I Southern California Regional on Tuesday and performed like it belonged there.
Dakota Smith pounded 15 kills, Jon Ferrari dished 34 assists and the Bears made short work of No. 8 San Gabriel 3-0 in a quarterfinal match at Buchanan's gym.
San Gabriel, the Southern Section runner-up in Division IV, traveled more than three hours to get to Clovis.The Matadors were at a clear talent disadvantage compared to the Bears, the Central Section Division I champion and ranked No. 4 nationally by ESPN RISE.
Buchanan (37-3) barely broke a sweat in a 25-15, 25-17, 25-13 victory and will host No. 4 Granada Hills at 7 p.m. Thursday in a semifinal. Granada Hills beat No. 5 La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad 3-1.
"They're not a very big team, but their attack is so polished and they can jump out of the gym," San Gabriel assistant coach Larry Kanow said of the Bears. "Our game is rallying for points and it was one play and it's over."
With Ferrari expertly setting up kills, front-liners Smith, Tim Moses, Taylor Gasman, Ben Harding and Tyler Freeman put them away with power and accuracy.
Buchanan had an extraordinary high .457 kills percentage with 41 kills to San Gabriel's 23.
"From top to bottom in the lineup, they really hit the ball hard," said Kanow after his team finished 28-6.
With San Gabriel hitting soft serves, Ferrari simply teed it up for his big hitters. Moses delivered nine kills and six blocks, Gasman and Harding five kills apiece and Freeman four kills.
Buchanan was coming off a 3-1 victory against Clovis West for the Central Section championship. Though the Bears weren't as sharp against San Gabriel, they were barely challenged.
The Bears scored the first four points of the match and it was never in doubt.
"They tried to let us make the mistakes, but we stayed consistent," Smith said.
About the only flaw in Buchanan's game was inconsistent serving, which led to free points for the Matadors.
"I thought the Clovis West match we were a lot more intense," Bears coach John Jay said. "But they executed OK. It's going to get tougher from here on and we need to do a better job of spreading the ball around and finding guys."
Buchanan was awarded the No. 1 seed in the eight-team Division I Regional in part because the three teams ahead of it in the national rankings are in the Division II playoffs.
The Bears this year have beaten current national No. 1 Santa Margarita, placed fifth at the Best of the West tournament and won the Las Vegas and La Jolla tournaments.
"I think we deserve our seeding," Moses said, "but I don't think we've peaked yet. We want to be perfect and Coach says he feels it will come this week."
Top-seeded Mater Dei-Santa Ana eliminated No. 8 Clovis North 25-20, 27-25, 25-17 in the quarterfinals and advanced to face No. 5 Westlake.