“Wild” is what senior outside hitter Zevan Williams called it.
“Family” is what senior setter Trey Lake calls his team.
“Legacy” is how head coach Richard Lake describes the seniors class.
Yes, simple but powerful words used to illustrate the Clovis High boys volleyball team as they marched through the Southern Section playoffs to win the Division II SoCal title as the No. 2 seed, ending with a rousing 25-17, 25-19, 22-25, 26-24 victory at No. 1 Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks on May 27.
“At the beginning of the season we had set one goal for ourselves and that was to win a regional state championship,” said Trey Lake. “They say things happen for a reason and I believe they did. The feeling was indescribable.”
The Cougars came out firing out of the gate against the CIF SoCal champions, ending with freshman David Hawkins’ three service aces to close the set. The team had eight aces in the set overall with a hitting percentage of .388.
But, down 0-2, Notre Dame bounced back in the third set with a 22-25 win and had momentum up 24-23 in the fourth. But a Williams kill, a block by Hawkins and Lake and then the final blow – a back row kill from senior Akash Dhother set off a wild and ecstatic celebration from the Cougars capping of a 31-8 season.
Offensively, the Cougars were led by the setting of Lake (42 assists) and the hitting of Williams (18 kills), Dhother (16) and Max Ogas (12).
“It was one of our most complete games,” said head coach Rich Lake, father of Trey and freshman Grant. “All six players on the court were in sync. This victory was a legacy win for these seniors. This group of guys have played together since 7th grade both for both the school and on club teams. They brought the tradition of Clovis volleyball to another level.”
Lake also praised the defensive play of Grant Lake (12 digs), Dhother (5 blocks), Caleb Malais (11 digs) and Jon Sakaguchi.
The win was redemption after going undefeated through league play at 10-0 and sweeping rival Buchanan in the process, but falling to the Bears in the Central Section title game, a crushing loss after being up two sets to zero.
“The Buchanan loss was a difficult loss for us to deal with,” said Rich Lake. “We had a couple of rough days after that loss emotionally but on Sunday when we found out that we would have the opportunity to play in the State Regional, we quickly regained our focus.”
The Cougars would indeed focus with 3-0 and 3-2 home playoff wins over Bishop Montgomery and Calabasas before toppling Notre Dame, a private Catholic school with over 1,200 students and a $16,000 a year tuition.
“There aren’t words for how much my senior brothers mean to me,” said Williams, who’s attending UC Irvine next season. “In fact, I am proud of our whole team’s achievements. It was truly an awesome experience.”