When facing a large deficit to a tough team mid-set, most volleyball teams would give up and look toward the next set.
Not the Clovis West Golden Eagles; they want to win every set in every match they play.
And they did just that Tuesday night behind strong performances from Tori Landen and Nia Scanlan.
Landen spearheaded the Clovis West offensive attack, leading the team with 12 kills, but she couldn’t have done it without senior setter Nia Scanlan who posted a double double with a game-high 19 assists and 10 digs.
Clovis West overcame a six-point deficit and three set points by Liberty in the second set to sweep their match against the Patriots 25-22, 27-25 and 25-20.
Their opponent was far from a pushover.
Coming into their matchup with Clovis West, the Liberty Patriots squad had only dropped one of its first ten games of the season and Liberty proved up to the task of handling Clovis West early in the first set. The Patriots came out aggressive at the nets, swinging hard and winning most of their long rallies.
But, the tide turned mid-set when Clovis West finally began turning their attacks into kills. Liberty got a taste of its own medicine, as Clovis West dominated net play for the last three points of the first set, winning 25-22.
As the second set started, Liberty went back to winning points at the net and took advantage of Clovis West’s errors to take a 17-11 lead.
That’s when the Golden Eagles showed the fight and tenacity that defines their team.
They went on a 9-3 run to tie the game at 20, but would soon fall behind again, facing a 24-22 deficit and two set points for the Patriots.
In this pivotal moment of the game, Clovis West head coach Rhonda DeRuiter called a timeout and relayed a message to her team.
“Play team-first and don’t get frustrated by how you’re playing individually.”
Her message worked.
The Golden Eagles rattled off two straight points to force a deuce and after staving off one more set point for Liberty, they took three straight points to escape the second set 27-25.
With the gym electrified and the momentum fully on the Golden Eagles side in a see-saw affair, the Golden Eagles started strong with the third set and despite the Patriots best efforts; DeRuiter and co. never trailed in route to a 25-20 third-set victory.
DeRuiter was overjoyed by her team’s strong will, displayed in the second set and preached the importance of their “every set, every match” mentality.
“There’s no reason to not give 100 percent when you got your team behind you. If you’re out on that court, you better be going all out every point,” DeRuiter said.
When it comes to facing section powerhouses like Liberty, it takes more than talent to win and the Clovis West squad showed Tuesday they have the will to find a way against any team in the Central Valley.
Clovis West (14-4) looks to continue its run against Bakersfield teams, when the team travels Thursday to Bakersfield High. Liberty (9-2) will return home for next week’s matchup against Pioneer Valley, a new team in the CIF Central Section.