Two home state playoff games. Two three-set sweeps from a Clovis West team that improves with each match.
In the second round of the CIF State volleyball tournament Thursday, No. 3 seed Clovis West dismantled No. 6 Notre Dame in straight sets, 25-19, 25-17 and 25-21.
Before the game, Clovis West head coach Rhonda DeRuiter said the strategic focus would be defending Notre Dame’s two star hitters, juniors Abby Miller and Kelly Schackel.
“They have [Miller and Schackel] who they set for a lot,” DeRuiter said. “Our front line has to step up and we have to put them through their rotations.”
What would be the best way to neutralize Notre Dame’s star players? By keeping the ball away from them.
That’s exactly what Clovis West did, by maintaining possession via long runs of scoring throughout the game.
Clovis West started the first set on a 7-1 run where they dominated the ball and momentum. The tide of the set shifted when Notre Dame had a 12-6 run to knot things at 18.
From that point, Clovis West intensified their net attack and went on another 7-1 run to close the set victorious, 25-19.
The second set was close at the start, but behind its trademark aggressive offense and costly Notre Dame errors, Clovis West went on a 9-1 run to fuel their victory in the second set, 25-17.
The third set saw Clovis West start on another long run, getting up 8-1 before withstanding a late Notre Dame charge to take the decisive third set, 25-21.
DeRuiter attributed her team’s long scoring runs to loosening the reins on in-game coaching.
“I’ve stopped calling out a serve zone, because the team would be focused on putting the serve where I told them and wouldn’t serve aggressively,” DeRuiter said. “It’s worked really well because now they’re focused on their game and making their own reads at the net.”
This Clovis West squad isn’t reading too far ahead into the future however, as DeRuiter wants the focus to be solely on the next game Saturday.
Star Clovis West junior Momo Hebert agrees.
“Our team is taking it one point, one game at a time, and we are focused on getting ready on and off the court for the next battle,” Hebert said.
That next battle will take place on the road in the CIF State volleyball regional semifinals, at Menlo-Atherton High School to face the 26-6 Bears.