Clovis West Gets Creative in 3-0 Win Over Central

Clovis West’s Sierra Liulamaga rises over the net and tips the ball over two Central Grizzlies in a 3-0 sweep for the Golden Eagles. PHOTO BY GABE CAMARILLO/CLOVIS ROUNDUP

On Thursday night, Clovis West welcomed young volleyball players from local elementary schools to watch the Golden Eagles girls volleyball match against Central. 

Players from Liberty, Pinedale and Nelson witnessed a Clovis West victory, while receiving a lesson from the older girls on how to play entertaining volleyball. 

Clovis West showcased a creative offensive game plan featuring lots of movement and fakes, using it to fuel its three-set takedown of Central Thursday, 25-17, 25-21 and 25-17.

With all the fluid, crafty playmaking, you’d think Clovis West head coach Rhonda DeRuiter put her most experienced starting lineup on the court.

Yet, DeRuiter says Thursday’s starting lineup played together for the first time Thursday afternoon – at the practice before the game.

“We had to make last-minute adjustments as some players got sick with the flu, but the girls still went for it with a new starting lineup,” DeRuiter said. 

“Our girls were nervous at first. Our 3 p.m. practice today resembled nothing like how we played in the game.” 

Despite the rough practice, Clovis West started out of the gates strong, but so did Central. The first set was initially close, tied at 9, with both teams playing creatively on the attack.

Central lost its rhythm with a series of ball-handling errors mid-set, which gave Clovis West momentum to push through the first set with a win, 25-17.

Central remained shaky to start the second set, unable to find an answer to Clovis West’s unexpected, unpredictable attack. 

However, before Clovis West could run away with the second set, Central kept it close and flashed hints of the creative offense they had early in the first set. 

Every time Clovis West looked like they would win comfortably, Central answered with a run. The Grizzlies almost stole the second set, getting it as close as 24-21, but could not save three set points for the Golden Eagles, who survived to win 25-21.

As talented as the offense was for Clovis West, their defense showed up big early in the third set, stifling the Central attack with blocks and getting Clovis West to an 11-2 lead. 

Although Central would creep closer with more flashes of their own great offense, the Grizzlies could not sustain it against the Clovis West defense, and the Golden Eagles finished off the match with a third-set win, 25-17.

Clovis West’s new starting lineup filled up the stat sheet during their victory. Junior Alexandria Wright had 15 kills and 5 blocks, making an impact on both sides of the ball. Senior Jill Penner had a double-double with 11 kills and 12 digs, as well as Momo Hebert with 21 assists and 10 digs. 

What the Golden Eagles did Thursday cannot be quantified by numbers. 

They were short handed and coming off a tough loss to Clovis North, yet still found a way to dominate and inspire the future Golden Eagles that sat in the stands. 

Clovis West (16-5) will host their next game on Tuesday against Clovis East. Central (11-14) will play at Buchanan Tuesday. 

Gabriel Camarillo
Gabe Camarillo is a first-year sophomore at Fresno State, after graduating from Edison High School in 2019. At Edison, he was a sports writer for the Edison Illuminator newspaper, as well as editor-in-chief of the 2019 Edison High Yearbook. Now at Fresno State, he is part of the Bulldog Vision team, and helps film all Bulldog football practices and games. Gabe brings a unique, exciting voice to the Clovis Roundup.