High School Sports

Central Section girls volleyball finals: Clovis West, SJM, Kerman, Kingsburg claim crowns

Four of five Central Section high school girls volleyball championship matches Saturday at College of the Sequoias went to a decisive fifth set, capped by Clovis West’s Division I victory over Liberty-Bakersfield.

San Joaquin Memorial, Kerman and Bakersfield Christian each won five-set matches, too. Kingsburg swept Sierra Pacific in a match that started nearly 12 hours before the Clovis West match ended.

CIF regional pairings have been set. Notably, Clovis West is seeded No. 3 in Northern California Division I and Clovis North is No. 8. Both will host first-round matches Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Clovis West 3, Liberty-Bakersfield 2

The fourth-seeded Golden Eagles (29-10), who upset district rival Clovis North to get here, beat the second-seeded Patriots for the second time this season.

But whereas Clovis West swept Liberty back in September on the Golden Eagles’ court, Saturday night’s title match had plenty of runs. Clovis West started the match with an 11-1 lead and won the first set 25-12. But Liberty rebounded to win the next two 25-17 and 25-16.

Liberty jumped ahead 6-1 in Game 4 only to have the Golden Eagles reel them in for a 25-22 win.

Clovis West led 11-10 in the final set when a Patriots spike landed just long, and the Golden Eagles ran the table (Alexandra Wright scored two of the four points on kills) for a 15-10 win.

It’s Clovis West’s first section title since 2013.

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The Clovis West High girls volleyball team celebrates its Central Section Division I championship after beating Liberty-Bakersfield in five sets in the final Saturday night at College of the Sequoias. ClovisWest Twitter

Memorial 3, Righetti 2

The top-seeded Panthers (30-9) made a heroic fifth-set rally to win the Division III championship under coach Martina Gregusova, the former Fresno Pacific star from Slovakia.

Memorial was down 10-6 when it took its final timeout. Second-seeded Righetti had match point at 14-12 but the Panthers scored four straight to win.

Set scores were 22-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-13, 16-14.

Memorial finally got over the D-III title hump. The Panthers reached the semifinals in 2013, lost in the 2014 final, were eliminated three straight years in the quarterfinals and last year were bounced in the semifinals.

Kerman 3, Mammoth 2

The Lions returned to the top of the section for the first time since coach Kara DeGroot was a player, outlasting Mammoth in five sets for the Division V title.

Kerman (29-11) finished third in the North Sequoia League behind D-II Yosemite and defending state D-V champion Washington Union, which was eliminated in this year’s D-IV quarterfinals. Kerman has won five straight.

Mammoth (27-6-1) was making its first appearance in the section finals.

The Kerman volleyball team celebrates its win over Mammoth at the CIF Central Section girls volleyball championships Saturday at College of the Sequoias. JOHN WALKER jwalker@fresnobee.com

Kingsburg 3, Sierra Pacific 0

The second-seeded Vikings (21-19) swept the top-seeded Golden Bears (33-7) for the Division IV crown in the first match of the day.

Kingsburg beat Sierra Pacific 25-17, 25-8, 25-17, The Saturday morning victory avenged a 3-2 loss at Sierra Pacific in an August non-league match.

The Vikings won 12 straight sets in the playoffs and have won 18 straight overall.

The championship ended a decade of D-IV frustration for Kingsburg, which lost in the 2014 and 2012 section finals and was eliminated in the semifinals in 2018, 2017 and 2013.

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Kingsburg players celebrate their sweep over Sierra Pacific for the Central Section Division IV girls volleyball championship. KingsburgGirlsSoccer Twitter

Bakersfield Christian 3, Stockdale 2

The fourth-seeded Eagles topped the No. 3 Mustangs 25-22, 25-22, 24-26, 18-25, 18-16 in the all-Bakersfield Division II final. It was supposed to be a Visalia showcase, but BC handed top-seeded Redwood its first loss of the season in one semifinal and Stockdale beat No. 2 Central Valley Christian on the other side of the bracket.

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Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.