It was a battle between David and Goliath. Only in this version, it was Goliath in a sweep.
The Buchanan High boys volleyball team entered Friday’s Central Section final bigger, taller and stronger than Clovis North. And the top-seeded Bears swept the No. 2 Broncos 25-21, 25-18, 25-19 to repeat as Central Section champs and win their third title in four years.
The Broncos jumped to an early lead but awoke Buchanan’s sleeping giants in 6-foot-5 Ryan Smith, 6-9 Donovan Mitchell and 6-10 Patrick Gasman.
Clovis North led by as many as three points in set 1 and five in the final set, but saw both advantages fade in its first trip to the section finals.
“We got away with a couple of things at the beginning of the game, scored some points and got some momentum going,” Broncos coach Jason Powell said. “But then their big guys kicked in.”
Buchanan libero Myles Dornhofer and Connor Fogg scooped dig after dig to set up the towering trio. The Bears automatically advance to the Southern California Regional, with seedings to be announced Sunday.
9Central Section boys volleyball titles for Buchanan
After what appeared to be quick and painless victories in the first two sets, the Bears (30-6) hit a hiccup in set 3.
Clovis North, 0-3 against Buchanan in the regular season, jumped to a 9-4 lead as Gasman drew a net violation. He wasn’t happy with the call, punching the ball on its way down to draw a yellow card.
The slip-ups continued for the Bears, as Gasman dove forward and extended full length for a dig only for the refs to blow the play dead and increase the Broncos’ lead.
Gasman was fazed, but his teammates were not.
Mitchell took over, connecting for six straight kills to tie the set, including one made possible by Taj Sangha’s out-of-bounds diving save to keep the play alive.
A swap of service points later and Mitchell again rallied for five consecutive kills to put the Bears in front. He had 12 of his match-high 19 kills in the third set.
Gasman shook off the shaky start with a block — his fourth — and Fogg aced his serve to put the Bears one point away from their ninth title in program history.
They got it on the next play as the Broncos (31-11) returned a Buchanan service only to be stuffed at the net by a leaping Smith.
“We had to tough it out because we were down and one of our players was down,” Mitchell said. “That’s about it. We wanted to tough it through and get it done in three.”
Josh Ferraro led Clovis North with 10 kills and nine digs. Bobby Ying added 11 assists and 10 kills while Mitchell Peterson had six blocks.