Buchanan sweeps Central to move into tie for first

Buchanan, ranked No. 17 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, had lost to Central six straight times dating back two years but the Bears were all smiles after beating the state’s No. 6 Grizzlies. CONTRIBUTED BY AN EYE FOR IT ALL PHOTOGRAPHY

For the last two years, Central has been Buchanan’s rival and nemesis, beating the Bears a total of six times including a heartbreaking five-set loss in the Central Section D-I championship game last year.

In Round 1 in league this year, the Bears were thrashed on Sept. 25 by the Grizzlies 25-18, 25-14, 25-10 on the road.

But, Buchanan made sure there wouldn’t be a seventh straight as the Bears struck hard and true in a dominating and emotional home win over Central led by senior stars Mikeyla Weiss, Ashley Dittmann and Lexi Pagani in sweeping Cal-Hi Sports No. 6 ranked team 25-15, 25-14, 25-23 to move into a first place tie with the Grizzlies.

A well-deserved win for sure, prompting Buchanan head coach Chantal Paschetta after the game to exhale and say, “Finally.”

“I’ve been here for six years and I’ve followed this group of seniors since they’ve been in seventh grade,” continued Paschetta. “I think I’ve put six years of pressure on them and now they’ve done it. This group is really special and have changed the culture of this program.”

The win moved the Bears into a tie atop the TRAC with Central at 7-1, improving to 28-7 overall.

Central, also ranked No. 27 in the nation by MaxPreps, fell to 32-4 overall.

“We all came together as a team and played really good,” said Dittmann, a UC Riverside commit who registered 11 kills in the match. “We finally beat them and it feels amazing.”

The Bears had to crawl back from a 18-13 deficit in Game 3, reeling off six straight points on serve from Haley Barsotti, punctuated by a Pagini kill to set off a frenzy on the court.

“We weren’t doubting, we knew we could come back,” Dittmann said. “We just concentrated on playing all-out each point and focused on one point at a time.”

Pagini led the team with 12 kills and Weiss, the standout setter committed to Fresno State, recorded 44 assists and ten digs.

Buchanan had the tall task of slowing down Central’s hard-hitting senior duo of Mikayla Lewis and Bailey Combs.

“We didn’t do a single thing on the scouting report the first time we played and this game we executed it to a T,” Paschetta said, a 2005 Buchanan grad who played at UC Davis. “They have wanted it so much but sometimes the want gets in the way of executing. But tonight they executed.”

There was no clearer example of that level of execution when Ashley Schroeder subbed in for a single play in set two and the 5-foot-11 junior responded with a block on the left-handed Combs.

Playing in front of a playoff-like atmosphere, the game was most likely a precursor to a rematch in the Central Section title game, albeit with two games left in league and the playoffs looming.

“This win is awesome and we potentially could be co-champs,” Paschetta said. “We’ve won the battle but not the war.”