Editor’s note: This is the second in an eight-part series previewing the Davis High fall sports.
“For next year, there are some big shoes to fill,” Davis High girls volleyball coach Julie Crawford told The Enterprise as last season reached its terminus.
And as oft-repeated as that saying is, Crawford really meant it when she said there’d be some XL-sized clogs left vacant on her roster.
She graduated three standout players — including senior striker Lyndsay Chambers — who together led the Blue Devils to a Delta Valley Conference championship.
That 2012 DHS edition went 22-8 overall, finished its league schedule at 9-1, and took third place at its own Davis Fall Classic.
Crawford remembers it as one of her greatest accomplishments in her time as mentor for the girls team.
All that said, she’s just as eager to put the past behind and get the 2013 campaign underway.
“I’m really excited about the season, given how competitive the tryout was,” she said. “I put together a team of up-and-coming and really solid athletes.
“We’re going to be well-rounded. I’m excited to develop the girls, and help them reach their potential. They’ve been working really hard.”
And the Devils are going to need all the preparation they can get with a schedule full of tough opponents like Monterey Trail, a team Davis barely edged for the DVC banner.
To make sure the locals are ready, players from last year’s DHS roster will take the reins as team leaders, including outside hitters Zoe Hunt-Murray, a senior, and junior Maya Gilardi.
Also in that mix is senior Mackenzie Harrison, who became an essential piece of the 2012 DVC title run and earned an all-league honorable mention in the process.
But there also are some Blue Devils who don’t have any history for Crawford to call upon. A pair of freshmen, Karlie Kijanka and Samantha Moore, impressed enough at tryouts to make the cut.
This is a first for Crawford, who has never introduced a freshman to a DHS varsity girls roster.
“I’m excited to have such a young team,” she said. “We’re going to have a very strong program for several years, so I’m really excited and optimistic about it.”
A fresh perspective will also be offered by Crawford, who spent part of the summer observing the men’s and women’s Olympic volleyball teams in Southern California.
“I met with the coaches, and even Misty May, an Olympic gold medalist, and picked her brain about some stuff,” Crawford said. “I was lucky to have that experience.”
The ideas she took away inspired her to take a different approach to Devil practices, which she now refers to as “rehearsals” for the coming season.
Davis fans will have their first chance to see the effects of these changes in the season opener against Will C. Wood on Friday at 6 p.m.
Crawford expressed how important this nonconference leg of the season will be to developing her Blue Devils. She also spoke of her confidence in them as a unit:
“We’ve got a talented group. Not only are they awesome volleyball players, but they’re nice girls who get along well, so that makes the practice environment pleasant.”
Notes: DHS reached the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament last season. … It was an interesting summer for Crawford, who is the defending DVC Coach of the Year. The Blue Devil mentor was let go as girls coach in June, but the decision was reversed on July 16th by a school board vote. … Crawford also coaches the Davis boys volleyball team, a squad she has led to the section playoffs each of the past two seasons.
— Reach Brett Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett