The Central Valley Christian Cavaliers’ finish their season in second place in the Central Section
CLOVIS – The Central Valley Christian volleyball season came to a close after a 3-2 loss to the Buchanan Bears in the Central Section championship.
The Cavaliers took a little while to get their bearings in the Buchanan gym but after losing the first set, they went on a good streak. They won the next two sets, winning the third set after coming from behind by seven points. Unfortunately, the Bears got ahead in both the fourth and fifth sets and ended up taking the Central Section championship.
“You’re cheering them on and I’m trying to keep motivating them and pumping them up and it did,” CVC head coach Mike Kroeze said. “They wanted it. It’s such a mental game. I was proud to see them stay mentally strong.”
The Cavaliers were the third seed in the Division II bracket. They first faced Dinuba, the 14th seed and lost the first set, then came back to win the next three. Then the same thing happened against the 11th seed Bakersfield Christian, who the Cavaliers had lost to earlier in the season. It happened a third time against 10th seeded Centennial.
“I really kind of thought the same thing would happen tonight,” Kroeze said. “Lost the first match, won the next two. I was hoping for game three, but this didn’t work out.”
Regardless of not winning the championship title, the Cavaliers still won second place in the division and were awarded a silver plaque for the honor. Compared to the team that lost four games in a row in early September, they’ve come a long way.
“I didn’t think we really had the potential to be here knowing we lost so many seniors,” Kroeze said. “The season started out so rough and to be here is really an accomplishment. It was everything I hoped that they would achieve and they played as a team and played really well.”
Every player on the Cavaliers played a contributing part on the court against Buchanan. Defensively, libero Grace Van Groningen was all over the court, diving for balls and making sure to hype up her teammates between plays. Many of the front row players made the back row their home as well including Avery Hiemstra, Lilinoe Spencer and Karlee De Groot.
Karlee De Groot also went on two notable service streaks in sets two and three. Her service streak in set three allowed the Cavaliers to tie the game at 11 points before overtaking the bears and winning the match. Van Groningen also had a noticeable service streak towards the end of the set.
Setter Sophia Fields was instrumental in running the offense against a team with very strong blockers and smart front row players. Sophomore middle blocker Lola Highstreet was key in getting necessary blocks against the Bears’ kills in the third set.
Although some of their starters will be graduating, CVC is not without underclassmen that now have strong playoff experience and will bring that into next season. The school runs a club team that will begin playing on Nov. 28 and the athletes will keep up their work during the offseason, spending time playing with the seniors to gain even more valuable knowledge and experience.
“I’m amazed at how every year we just bounce back,” Kroeze said.
Some of that bounce back comes from the resiliency from the athletes on this team, who have learned from their mistakes and put those losses in the early season towards their drive and desire to win. A sizable student section attended the game, an hour away from home in Visalia, and despite the disappointment, that is the kind of support that champions draw. So perhaps in the eyes of their parents and classmates, the Cavaliers are champions anyway.