Clovis News: Sports

Clovis West, Buchanan on volleyball collision course

The roles for Clovis West and Buchanan highs are reversed this year. But the Central Section Division I boys volleyball championship match will look the same.

Defending champion Clovis West -- the second seed -- swept No. 3 Bullard 3-0 on Tuesday night to set up a rematch of the 2010 final with top-ranked Buchanan.

Last season, the Golden Eagles as the No. 1 seed dominated Buchanan 3-1 for their fourth section title and second in four years.

This time Buchanan, ranked No. 5 in the nation by ESPN RISE, is the favorite to win its sixth section championship in its 12th finals appearance. The Bears will be playing for the title for the sixth time in nine years and swept Clovis West twice this season to win the Tri-River Athletic Conference title.

"It will be intense and exciting, and should be sold out. It will be a battle," Bears coach John Jay said after his 35-3 team handled No. 4 Clovis North 3-0 in the semifinals.

The championship is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Buchanan, but Jay said it might be moved to Thursday to avoid conflicts with the high school baseball playoffs.

"We're clearly the underdogs. But we've played Buchanan tough and I feel good about our chances," said Eagles coach Bob McCarthy, referring to the 25-19, 25-23, 26-24 loss to the Bears in their last meeting.

Clovis West (23-9) advanced to the final with a 25-18, 25-21, 25-16 win over Bullard (33-11) in a swift 60 minutes.

"Clovis West plays with a lot of confidence and composure," Knights coach Roy Verduzco said. "They're a solid team that doesn't make a lot of errors."

The Eagles' power-hitting game was no match for Bullard. Brett Salomonson, Randon Gray and Steve Callisch put away most of the team's 42 kills, set up by the 36 combined assists from Jordan Lee, Siyu Herr and Chris Wong.

Salomonson, a 6-foot junior, had 12 kills and two blocks, the 6-3 senior Gray 10 kills and two blocks and 6-4 sophomore Callisch seven kills and three blocks. Lee and Herr added 10 digs apiece.

Salomonson's six kills paced the Eagles in the first set.

Callisch came up big in the second set with a block that snapped a 20-20 tie, then he put away two kills for a lead Clovis East finished out quickly.

"I got some pretty good one-on-nones," Callisch said.

That was the set that broke the Knights, who finally wore out at 10-10 in the third set. Clovis West won the next six points behind two blocks from Salomonson and the rout was on.

Gabe Felton's eight kills led the Knights. Kaleb Neufeld had four kills and James Doyle 13 digs.

Buchanan, which hasn't lost to a Central Section team this year, took down Clovis North for the third time with a balanced attack for a 25-20, 25-21, 25-14 victory.

The victory was the 28th straight for Jay's team, which needs one more to earn the section's automatic bid into the state tournament.

"This team has kept its focus and is taking care of business," Jay said. "We did beat Clovis West 3-0, but the games have been close.

"One swing either way will make the difference. We've got to continue to execute our side of the net."

That wasn't a problem against the Broncos (34-7), who lost to Buchanan for the third time in 13 days.

Tim Moses paced the Bears with 11 kills and Taylor Gasman had 10. The team's main offensive force Dakota Smith added seven hits and 10 digs, and Jonathan Ferrari 32 assists.

For Clovis North, Matt Winslow had a strong match with 12 kills and nine digs, and Cody Trueblood delivered 22 assists and seven digs.

Clovis West's Wong, one of four seniors on the team, said he expects a tighter match with Buchanan this time.

"Both teams are powerful, both have experience and know the level that needs to be played for a championship," he said. "We need to execute on our side and not worry about them."