Winless in TRAC play so far this season, the Clovis East Timberwolves girls volleyball team sought to get its first league victory Tuesday over crosstown rival, the Clovis West Golden Eagles.
It would be quite the upset bid for the Timberwolves, considering the Golden Eagles were rolling into Tuesday’s match, fresh off their dominant win over Central last week.
Clovis East head coach Lynette Wilke-Lopez knew of the challenge, but prepped her players for moments like this.
“The coaches tell our players every day that the TRAC is hard and every day is going to be a battle, so they got to come ready to play,” said Wilke-Lopez. “Every day, we are growing and trying to get better.”
Yet not even an improved Timberwolves team could stop Clovis West from rolling along.
The Golden Eagles displayed another spectacular offensive attack and dispatched Clovis East Tuesday in straight sets, 25-21, 25-11 and 25-15.
The first set started solid for Clovis East, which kept it close and actually led 15-12 halfway through the opening set.
Clovis East looked improved in many areas after losing to Buchanan and Clovis North last week.
The team had solid communication and clean passes, and it led to sustained rallies and converted kills for the outside hitters.
Clovis West showed persistence in long rallies too, however and won a majority of them late in the first set. This would give the Golden Eagles the edge they needed to fend off the Timberwolves and win the first set, 25-21.
Things seemed to come much easier to the Golden Eagles in the second set.
Unable to gain an offensive rhythm with constant side outs in the first set, the Golden Eagles finally got themselves into a scoring groove in the second set, taking it 25-11.
The second set saw the beautiful teamwork that defines Clovis West volleyball, and the start of the third set would see more of the same.
Clovis West looked in sync, anticipating each other’s next move and getting on long stretches of scoring.
The Clovis East squad nevertheless gave it their best shot to stop them, even behind two sets.
Playing hard for Wilke-Lopez, the Timberwolves showed true grit and played very well in the third set, offsetting Clovis West’s strong start to the set and closing the deficit to four at 16-12.
Clovis East would be doomed by service errors though and they would drop the third and final set to Clovis West, 25-15.
With how well Clovis West played, you’d expect that head coach Rhonda DeRuiter returned her starters to the lineup Tuesday after a few missed last Thursday’s game against Central.
Instead, she put out another entirely new starting lineup.
“We are still trying to find our favorite lineup, so that was another new lineup out there tonight,” said DeRuiter. “I think the more options we have, the better when it comes to winning our league this year.”
The stars of the new lineup Tuesday were Momo Hebert and Nia Scanlan. Hebert nearly had a third-straight double-double with 8 assists and 8 digs, while Scanlan fed the outside hitters with a game-high 13 assists.
Clovis West may still be looking to mix and match pieces of their lineup, but they look close to putting the final pieces together on how to win the TRAC volleyball title.
Clovis West (17-5) will play at Buchanan Thursday, while Clovis East (10-19) has a quick turnaround with a home game Wednesday against Clovis High.