Tuesday night was a very special, emotional night of volleyball.
The Clovis East Timberwolves hosted the 3rd annual Samarin Night Tuesday, in honor of the late former Timberwolves head coach Vicki Samarin.
Samarin was the head coach of Clovis East from 2006-2015, a tenure spanning 10 years and including a TRAC and Valley Championship in 2015.
She passed away in 2017, but ever since then, Samarin Night is celebrated every year when the Buchanan Bears come to visit Clovis East.
Before the game, current Clovis East head coach Lynette Wilke-Lopez spoke to the packed crowd about the importance of Samarin to local volleyball.
“Vicki was such a positive influence for volleyball in the Central Valley and she always taught her girls that winning was a mindset,” she said.
Indeed, Samarin’s most famous quote – “It’s a mindset” – was touched upon by Wilke-Lopez and plastered on the walls of the Clovis East gym Tuesday night.
More fittingly, both teams played with a winning mindset at key moments in Tuesday’s match, but the Bears would come away with a hard-fought four-set victory over Clovis East, 25-15, 25-12, 21-25, and 25-16.
Buchanan came out first with the winning mindset, playing aggressive at the net and taking advantage of multiple unforced Clovis East errors. The formula added up to a first-set Bears win, 25-15.
The same story defined the second set.
Buchanan looked focused and aggressive, while Clovis East struggled to sustain rallies. Things looked bleak for the Timberwolves as the Bears scored six straight points to take the second set, 25-12.
Even in the face of adversity, the Timberwolves did not fold. They displayed a winning mindset in the third set and started off strong.
Clovis East began the third set up 9-3, with Buchanan making uncanny errors and Clovis East gaining confidence with each point.
A timeout was quickly called by Buchanan head coach Chantal White, followed by Buchanan getting on a 9-2 run to take the lead.
Clovis East didn’t waver in the face of the run, keeping their mindset and putting up a fight. The Timberwolves would take four of the last five points of the third set, winning 25-21.
In the fourth set, Buchanan looked re-energized out of the huddle and went up 18-9, but Clovis East clawed back to make things interesting, closing the deficit to six. Ultimately, the Bears would prevail with the set and the match, 25-16.
In the stands watching the game was Vicki Samarin’s son, Daniel Samarin, who currently is the coach of Buchanan’s junior varsity volleyball team.
Him and White – who co-directed the Central Cal club team alongside Vicki Samarin – were key figures in creating Samarin Night every year when Buchanan visits Clovis East.
In fact, the Samarins’ connection to Buchanan runs deep. Both of Vicki Samarin’s children attended Buchanan and she became a Buchanan parent watching her boys play on the school’s volleyball team.
Daniel was honored to see his mother’s legacy honored Tuesday night.
“We started this tradition with Buchanan and Clovis East two years ago after my mother passed away. It’s great to see this tradition carry on, and I hope we do this every year,” he said.
Vicki Samarin was never one to adore the spotlight, but she is a woman who shaped Clovis sports. She deserves at least one night with the spotlight on her.
Clovis East (9-15) will next go to Clovis North to play the Broncos Thursday night. Buchanan (15-8) will play at Clovis High Thursday.