Clovis News: Sports

Buchanan boys win D-I volleyball title

With one thunderous windmill swing, Dakota Smith exorcised the demons that hounded the Buchanan High boys volleyball team the past seven years.

Smith's rocket spike to the center floor of Clovis West's side closed a 3-1 victory Friday and clinched the first Central Section Division I championship for the host Bears since 2003.

Nationally-ranked No. 4 Buchanan (36-3) won its sixth section title after finishing runner-up three of the past four years.

"I'm pretty sure there is no better feeling than putting away match point," said Smith, a three-year senior starter and co-captain with Taylor Gasman. "It's been a long time since we've won section and we get to leave our legacy.

"It was always our goal to win the championship, but it's only step one. It's time to move on to step two."

The Bears will host a first-round match of the Southern California Regional at 7 p.m. Tuesday and likely will earn the No. 1 seed. The three teams above them in the ESPN RISE national rankings -- Santa Margarita, Mater Dei and Mira Costa -- all compete in Division II.

"I'd like to think so. If not No. 1 then No. 2, which would keep us at home two matches," Bears 10th-year coach John Jay said.

The Bears avenged last year's section-final loss to Clovis West 25-19, 25-19, 18-25, 25-19 and afterward were mobbed by the school's No. 1 nationally-ranked baseball team.

"This feels so incredible," Gasman said. "I've heard people talk about it, but you don't know the feeling until experiencing it. Clovis West had our number last year, and now it was our turn."

Buchanan wound up beating Clovis West four times this year and lost only one set in doing so.

Smith, Gasman and juniors Tim Moses and Ben Harding proved too formidable at the net, time and again slamming winners and blocking spikes. And junior setter Jon Ferrari's all-around game frustrated the Golden Eagles (23-10).

"The two previous meetings I thought we beat ourselves. But that wasn't the case this time," Clovis West coach Bob McCarthy said. "We did all right and won that third set, but just couldn't stop them in the fourth."

Smith finished with 15 kills, three blocks and 10 digs. Moses had 14 kills, three blocks and four digs, Harding nine kills and four blocks, Gasman seven kills and three blocks, and Ferrari eight kills, 44 assists, 10 digs, three aces and two blocks.

Brett Salomonson led Clovis West with 13 kills, Jeff Morris had eight, Randon Gray five and Chris Wong 32 assists.

Buchanan came out hot and hit at a .519 percentage clip to win the first set and led wire-to-wire in the second. But Clovis West, trying to win its fifth title, didn't go down easily and rallied behind Salomonson's five kills to control the third set and force one more.

The score was tied at 17 in the fourth set before Ferrari and Smith made it their match to win.

"We actually practiced that scenario on Thursday," Jay said.

Ferrari served six straight points and his quick kill made it 24-18, then a point later he set up Smith for the final spike.

"Harding told me he wanted the last ball," Ferrari said. "But Dakota's a senior, so it had to go to him."