With a score like 25-23, 13-25, 18-25, 25-14, 15-9, it’s obvious that the Davis High girls volleyball team can put on the heat when it needs to.
But the battle against Ponderosa in The Cage on Thursday night also proved that hot and cold comes in equal parts for the offense of the Blue Devils, who have an overall record of 9-3 after their 3-2 win.
The fact that DHS would later struggle offensively wouldn’t have been obvious from the first set, which featured senior Zoe Hunt-Murray finding a groove that resulted in 17 kills on the night.
Hunt-Murray had help from junior Maya Gilardi, who contributed 11 kills herself. In unison with freshman setter Samantha Moore, the Devils outgunned the aggressive Bruins in a close first match.
“We started really tough,” said Davis head coach Julie Crawford. “We were able to take them out of their system. But then we started making it easy on them to run a fast offense.”
Even though five of Hunt-Murray’s kills came in the second game, the locals went astray of their bump, set, spike system. The ad hoc approach that replaced it allowed Ponderosa the opportunity to show off its own tall, fierce offense.
And the Blue Devil spread themselves thin trying to respond, often leaving holes for their opponents to exploit. And exploit the Bruins did, as evidenced by the 25-12 result of the match.
The combined height advantage of Ponderosa — whose main hitter, Lauren Williams, stands at 6-foot-1 — became even more apparent in Game 3. The visiting attackers repeatedly spiked balls over the heads of the DHS blockers.
Many of the shots left defense specialist Kimmy Siu sprawled out, diving in earnest attempts for returns. Though Siu tallied seven digs throughout the match, she nor her comrades could thwart the Bruins’ assault early in the third set.
DHS finally caught a breath, and evened it up at 11-11 with a few successful rallies. But hesitance in the Devil offense meant for struggles in getting the ball over the net, eventually a third-game loss.
The Davis squad returned with much more accuracy in the next set, and upon putting it over the net found a complacent Ponderosa defense on the other side. Hunt-Murray and junior Rebecca Monachello quickly put the Blue Devils at a 3-0 advantage.
And the Bruins never closed the gap, especially as freshman Karlie Kijanka got on the serve with the locals up 6-3. She earned five solo points when hard serves went unanswered by Ponderosa.
With junior Irene Rutazihana stuffing the few opportunities the Bruins had, DHS furthered the score divide until it had a 25-14 fourth-set victory.
The momentum continued, as the Devils started to pick up the pace with their previously faulty system. Soon enough, Hunt-Murray’s attack was coming too quickly for a reaction from Ponderosa.
But the hero of Thursday’s contest may have been Moore, a ninth-grader at Harper who amassed a season-high total of 20 digs. She recorded 29 assists by the end of contest, as well.
Moore worked in concert with the rest of the Blue Devils — her sturdiness on the court most apparent in the decisive fifth game.
Crawford cited an aggressive edge in the latter half of the match in bringing DHS a victory.
“We just can’t play it safe if we want to win,” said the coach, who actually prepped at Ponderosa. “We have to come out and play like we’re trying to win on every point — not giving opportunities for the opponent to put it back in our face.”
And that’s a lesson the local girls intend to bring with them to the Davis Fall Classic on Saturday. The Blue Devils will need it for the 16 Northern California teams they will face in the annual tournament.
“This is kind of the last attempt for teams to get in a bunch of game-play before league starts,” Crawford said. “It will be a fairly competitive tournament, and a fun day with lots of teams.
“I just want to play with consistency throughout the day. This team is known for ups and down, and I just want them to stay consistent and progressively improve throughout the day.”
Both DHS gyms will be used for the bracketed contest, which Crawford expects to see her squad end up in the top half of. The Blue Devils’ first matchup is at The Cage at 8 a.m.
— Reach Brett Johnson at email@example.com or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett. View galleries and purchase prints of Blue Devils sports photos at http://davisenterprise.zenfolio.com