The stage was set for a team-defining win.
Buchanan’s girls volleyball team was at home, honoring its seven seniors and going against a tough rival who had defeated them three times already this season.
Inspiration would not be lacking for the Bears as they hosted the Clovis Cougars Tuesday night.
Buchanan head coach Chantal White knew her girls would be motivated from the opening serve.
“The team was really motivated to play for the seniors and for each other,” said White. “They made a decision that they were going to show up tonight.”
They showed up big time.
Buchanan and Clovis put on an exciting display of volleyball and kept fans on the edge of their seats throughout, as the Bears found redemption for past defeats with a hard-fought, four-set victory over Clovis Tuesday, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22 and 25-18.
The first set was a close affair, with both teams swapping possessions in a flurry of side outs.
Buchanan won points with dominant net play, but would follow it up with errors to give the ball back to the Cougars. The Bears found control late in the set, going on a 7-2 run to stave off a potential Clovis comeback to take the first set, 25-21.
Momentum shifted hands at various points in the second set; Buchanan started with a 5-0 lead before Clovis had a 7-2 run of its own.
Both teams continued the set running hot and cold, with the lead shifting many times. Tension was high inside the Buchanan gym as the sides traded possession for the final points, but the Cougars won the last three to take the set 25-23 and even the match.
The exciting, see-saw nature of the match continued into the third set, but with a new twist.
Clovis started strong with a 5-1 lead, but Buchanan came roaring back with a 16-5 run, as the Bears again showed superior attacking and defense at the net. They would never trail again, holding off the Cougars down the stretch to take the third set, 25-22.
The fourth set was another hotly-contested battle. Clovis played the Bears tough by sustaining rallies and taking advantage of Buchanan mistakes, much like they had all game.
Yet the Bears – once again – found a way to keep the Cougars at bay. With the set tied at 18, the Bears stunned the Cougars with seven straight points to win the decisive fourth set, 25-18.
Coach White attributed the game-winning run to the service line.
“We were aggressive from the service line at the end,” said White. “For those last points, we placed the ball well and at a good velocity to put them out of their system.”
Fourth time’s the charm for the Bears, who got closer to defeating the Cougars each of the past three times they played.
In the end, Buchanan would not lose a fourth time to Clovis High. Not on their home court, and especially not on Senior Night.
Buchanan (21-9) will travel to Central Thursday. Clovis (24-14) will play at Clovis North on Thursday.