When Davis High plays Oak Ridge in the play-in round of the Sac-Joaquin Section boys volleyball tournament Tuesday, it won’t be the same Blue Devils who began their 2013 season with mixed results.
DHS — the third-place finisher in the Delta Valley Conference — won three of its last five matches to qualify for this 7 p.m. postseason outing.
Devil coach Julie Crawford is happy with her boys’ progress, and while she’s not making any predictions (Davis lost to Oak Ridge in straight sets back on March 5), she is excited about the opportunity.
So what were the keys to the locals’ 10-8 campaign and playoff berth?
“Developing a well-rounded team with several go-to players,” Crawford told The Enterprise. “I did not want to rely on the strength and experience of just Sam (Manderfield) and Dan (Bonetti).
“Yes, we wanted to make sure (those two) were challenged, but it was also important to bring the rest of the team up to their level in order to play at the level of competition that is required in our tough league.”
Crawford was delighted with the play of younger players like Andre Foster, Dominic Fannjiang and Nick Simons, a ninth-grader “with a ton of potential. … He will be one of the best in the area in the next couple of years,” according to Crawford.
So, to beat Oak Ridge (18-7, third in the Delta River League), what do the Blue Devils have to accomplish?
“Play smart offense,” the coach said. “The big hit isn’t going to win. We have to have smart placement of the ball, put up a strong block, shut down their big hitters. We have to serve tough, take them out of their offensive system.”
Elk Grove was unbeaten in DVC play and Monterey Trail finished second at 8-2. DHS’ third-place finish was thanks to a 6-4 conference mark.
Going into this season, what did Crawford expect?
“I am always confident that we will have success each season,” the Devil boys and girls mentor said. “To me, success isn’t about the record, it’s about how far the boys come as players, as a team and as individuals.
“We are a completely different team than from when we started … to me, that is success.
“Making the playoffs is just the cherry on the top. Yes, it’s always a long-term team goal (making the postseason). They wanted it and they went and got it.”
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.