Clovis News: Sports

Clovis West conquers in boys volleyball

Just before the start of Friday's Central Section boys volleyball championship between Buchanan High and Clovis West, a line of fans snaked about 100 feet outside of the Golden Eagles' east gym.

After stuffing the venue to near capacity, they saw something novel -- nationally 15th-ranked Clovis West losing a set.

"We were on their necks," Buchanan outside hitter Dakota Smith said.

And the Bears didn't lose their grip until right-side kills by Kyle Peterson and Jeff Morris closed the Eagles' 27-25 win in the fourth set and a 3-1 victory for their third section title in nine seasons.

"It kind of heated up a little bit there," said coach Bob McCarthy of Clovis West, which had won all 10 sets while beating Buchanan four times this season (twice in Tri-River Athletic Conference play and twice in tournaments) before Friday.

The Eagles, also ranked second in the state, improved to 34-1. Before Friday's 25-18, 25-20, 21-25, 27-25 victory, they were 56-0 in sets against section competition and 84-0 total in winning matches.

Only Mira Costa, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 2 in the nation, has beaten Clovis West -- a 3-0 decision on April 16 in the Karch Kiraly-Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

That means Clovis West hadn't been pushed to four sets before Smith delivered the final two points of Buchanan's 25-21 win in the third set.

"We had them in a place they hadn't been before," Smith said. "They were out of their comfort zone."

But the Eagles, a small team that plays fairly big in large part because of the 38- and 33-inch vertical jumping ability of Corey Mills and Peterson, had a bit too much firepower for the Bears (27-9).

Peterson and Jacob Schmidt finished with 17 and 14 kills, Mills added eight, junior setter Chris Wong had 50 assists and junior libero Jordan Lee provided 20 digs for Clovis West, which is expected to host a Southern Regional match Tuesday.

Seeding will be determined Sunday in a tournament that will end the season because northern schools don't play on the state level.

The Eagles' 11-match winning streak was in jeopardy when Buchanan established 7-5, 15-12, 18-14 and 20-18 leads in the fourth set as easily the biggest player in the house, 6-foot-6 senior middle blocker Trevor Gledhill, dominated the front row for the Bears.

But Schmidt's block, Peterson's kill from the second level and a Buchanan net violation gave Clovis West a 21-20 lead and set up a stirring finish that had the crowd of around 1,000 howling.

The fans included Floyd "Doc" Buchanan, the 86-year-old former Clovis Unified superintendent for whom the school was named, who would say later: "I think that's the best volleyball match I've seen in the history of Clovis."