Twice was enough for Sarah Armendariz, Micah Hebert and the rest of the Clovis West High girls volleyball team.
After losing to The Bee’s Central Section top-ranked Clovis twice previously this season, the Golden Eagles won the match that mattered most, riding seven kills, 21 assists and six digs from Armendariz and 15 kills and seven digs from Hebert to an outright Tri-River Athletic Conference title-clinching 25-27, 25-12, 25-19, 25-21 victory on Oct. 27.
“It fired us up,” Armendariz said of losses of 25-16, 25-18 on Sept. 10 in the final of the Central California Classic and 25-19, 25-23, 25-22 on Oct. 11 in the first round of TRAC play. “We worked our butts off in practice. Nothing drops. We just went after it. We were not going to take a loss. We were ready to win, fighting for every point.”
It’s the first TRAC title in three years for the perennial section power Golden Eagles (32-9, 8-2).
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And it most likely prevents Clovis West from facing the possibility of a road trip to Bakersfield during the Central Section playoffs, which begin Nov. 1.
We just went after it. We were not going to take a loss. We were ready to win, fighting for every point.
Clovis West’s Sarah Armendariz on her team’s 25-27, 25-12, 25-19, 25-21 victory over Clovis after two previous losses this season to the Cougars.
Southwest Yosemite League champion Liberty-Bakersfield (22-7, 9-1) appears to be in line to receive the No. 1 seed in Division I when the section announces playoff pairings for its five divisions on Oct. 31.
The Golden Eagles, who lost 25-14, 28-26, 25-21 against the Patriots on Sept. 22 in Bakersfield, are likely the No. 2 seed, which guarantees home-court advantage through the semifinals.
The section finals in all five divisions are set to be held for the second straight year at West Hills College-Lemoore on Nov. 12.
“The last time they came ready to play and I don’t think we rose to the occasion,” Hebert said. “When we came to their house, we decided it would be best to come out swinging. We didn’t have a lot to lose.
“I’m not sure what they are going to do with the seedings, but this will help us.”
Clovis West could have fared no better than a No. 4 seed had it lost to Clovis for the third time this season.
Instead, the Golden Eagles – who also received eight kills, two aces and two digs from Tiersa Bailey, six kills and 22 digs from Aubrey Olson and 19 digs from Faith Jensen – enter the postseason on a roll having won four straight.
“A lot of things we didn’t do well in the first round of league, we did tonight,” Clovis West coach Rhonda DeRuiter said. “We had a tough time finishing. We’d have even scores in the late teens or early 20s and just let people take over or make errors. But we stayed aggressive (tonight), stayed confident and got it done.”
Clovis (33-9, 6-4), which opened the season with 28 straight wins that included titles at the Clovis Varsity Challenge, Central California Classic and Hard Driven Classic, lost its third straight match to lose its grip on a likely top-two D-I playoff seed.
Taylen Ballard had 25 kills and 12 digs, while Keri Leake and Makena Ogas each added nine kills for the Cougars, who now appear in line for a seed between 4 and 6.
“The passion and heart we played with early in the season has kind of flickered out,” Clovis coach Rich Lake said.