The Davis High boys volleyball team was well aware of the healing properties a win would have on its 2013 conference prognosis. Thursday afternoon, the Blue Devils were apprised of how Franklin desperately needed a similar treatment.
So when DHS dominated the Wildcats as it did in The Cage — in a convincing 25-22, 25-19, 25-18 victory — it was like rubbing salt in the wound.
The pain was compounded when examining the history between the two squads. This was the fourth league match the Blue Devils took from Franklin. Earlier this season, DHS topped the ‘Cats 3-1 on their home court.
Both teams were striving for a triumph; to recover in the second half of Delta Valley Conference play, and give either the Blue Devils (8-7 overall, 4-2 league) or the Wildcats (11-7, 2-4) a shot at the playoffs.
Franklin’s roster had triple the number of seniors as the locals Thursday, but the veterans DHS did have — namely, Sam Manderfield and Dan Bonetti — performed well enough to nullify any potential advantage that would give.
Bonetti’s impact was apparent early in the match. He led the Blue Devils to a quick 6-0 in the serving position at the beginning first set, and ended up pairing with Manderfield for a total 10 kills by the end of it.
However, the momentum shifted during later portions of the set as DHS had three service errors — a problem that never plagued the local boys again for the rest of the afternoon.
The presence of Bonetti and Manderfield at the net eventually overwhelmed the Wildcats, who were never able to break through the resilient back line of Blue Devils — Mike Basso and Dominic Fannjiang — to earn a point lead.
The next set got a similar start, with DHS setter Don-Wook Shin offering up the ball for the powerhouse duo. Junior Andre Foster assisted them in the attack, and when combined, brought the score up to a 19-10 divide.
A few sloppy rallies on the part of the Blue Devils allowed Franklin to close the gap to 19-17. But all it took was a touch of the net from the Wildcats to put Manderfield in the service position, and the deed was done shortly thereafter.
Control got away from DHS in the last game of the night. The squad sent the ball flying astray for six out-of-bounds calls. This had the Blue Devils trailing their opponents by four points for a majority of the set’s first half.
The Wildcats squandered the opportunity with a pair of service errors, which on one occasion put the ball in the hands of the one they’d least want it to be in — Bonetti’s. With that, DHS regained its composure and sealed the 3-0 victory.
“We were very competitive tonight,” Blue Devil head coach Julie Crawford said. “We ran a quick offense, and our hitters turned the ball into an attack almost every single time.”
Crawford continued on to explain the lessons her squad will take away from the match; to be used against the opponents with plenty of mettle that they’ll soon be facing:
“Consistency, and playing our own game — taking care of business on our side of the net. That means not worrying about what the other team is doing, or their big hitters. We just need to capitalize on our strengths.”
There’s never been a better time to know what works, given that a rematch with Grant looms. After defeating the Blue Devils 3-1 on March 28 in The Cage, the Pacers continued on a war path — an eight-game winning streak.
However, there is no terror in the hearts of her local boys, who Crawford said will be ready the tackle the challenge come Tuesday.
“I don’t think there’s an intimidation factor at all,” she said. “It just gives us more drive to take a match off of them. I know we can. All we have to do it show up mentally prepared and ready to compete.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett