At this point, it's indisputable: The torch of national-class high school boys volleyball in the Tri-River Athletic Conference has been passed from Clovis West to Buchanan.
The nation's fifth-ranked Bears swept the Golden Eagles 3-0 for a second time Tuesday night, but there wasn't a person who left the Buchanan gym thinking this issue has been settled. Not this season.
And that includes the jolly junior who makes it all go for the Bears – Jonathan Ferrari.
"Oh yeah," the setter said after the 25-19, 25-23, 26-24 win, "I have no doubt the Valley championship will be here with West versus us. They're not a bad team at all, and if they're on, they'll beat us."
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A year after defeating Buchanan five times – the last for the Central Section title – going 35-2 and finishing ranked 13th nationally, the Golden Eagles (18-9, 5-2) led the Bears in every set.
Clovis West, trailing 24-19, also avoided five match points in set 3 before Buchanan 2010 Bee All-Star Dakota Smith closed the night with a service ace.
Smith teams with super-leaping Timothy Moses, Taylor Gasman, Benjamin Harding and Derek Chun in a deep and powerful frontline on a 30-3 team that has beaten the nation's top-ranked Santa Margarita-Rancho Santa Margarita and is unbeaten against section competition.
But the player in control is Ferrari.
"He's a special young man," Bears coach John Jay said.
And what a character, too.
"I do love the game," said Ferrari, who typically floats around with a smile, stares down the referee on occasion and sends some subtle messages to the opponent. He also delivers an all-around game that can't be matched in the section.
That was evident against Clovis West as Ferrari contributed 30 assists, three kills, two aces and eight digs.
"He's very valuable," Jay said. "He's fast, explosive, runs the offense well, can attack the ball and dump the ball, so he's another option. As a blocker, you have to respect him, so that helps because it creates difficulty for the defense."