The Davis High boys volleyball team started Friday night with all sorts of intensity and focus, easily winning the opening game against Pleasant Valley.
However, the Blue Devils couldn’t maintain the pace and slowly unraveled as the visiting Vikings escaped with a 12-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-20 nonleague win at The Cage.
“We came out in the first game and dominated,” said DHS head coach Julie Crawford, whose team is now 5-3 overall. “We had trouble carrying over the momentum. I don’t think (Pleasant Valley) did anything; I think we did this to ourselves.”
Davis trailed only briefly, 2-1, in the opening game before the serving of Dan Bonetti and the hitting of Sam Manderfield gave the Devils a lead that they later stretched to 6-2. The Vikings appeared out of sync, and were whistled five times for being in the net.
Meanwhile, DHS was in control thanks to the solid setting of Isaac Contreras, who moved the ball around between heavy hitters Manderfield, Michael Johnson and Bonetti. To keep the Vikings honest, Contreras had some stellar second-hit overs and reverse direction dinks.
“Our serves were working and we came through and got some good hits,” Contreras said. “In that first game, we had lots of good hits and momentum, but it didn’t carry over into the other games.”
As the Blue Devil energy waned, Pleasant Valley kicked its offense into a higher and faster gear.
In Game 2, the Vikings built an 8-3 lead on the hitting of Wyatt Hendersen. DHS was able to regroup and nearly catch up behind Manderfield’s kills and the serving of Bryan Hensley, who pulled the Devils within two points at 12-10.
An ace by Manderfield, followed by a Viking unforced hitting error, gave Davis its first lead of the game, 13-12. But the Blue Devils were not able to get more than a two-point advantage as the teams exchanged side outs.
With the game tied at 21, Viking middle Jason Williams sent a quick set to the floor to give his team a lead it would not relinquish.
The play also showed a crack in the DHS defensive armor. The Devils were able to dig out many hits from the back row and hustled to track down wayward hits, but they were unable to put up a quick block to slow down the Vikings.
“They’re an above-average team, but they were beatable,” said Manderfield. “They had a pretty good quick set; a lot of teams don’t run that as well as they do.”
Pleasant Valley started the third game strong and didn’t slow down. DHS was not only hampered by the quick sets, but by momentary lacks in communication.
The Blue Devils mounted a comeback in Game 4. Trailing 15-9, Johnson served three consecutive points, including two aces, to pull DHS to 15-12.
PVHS got back on a roll and pulled ahead 18-12 before giving Davis the ball back on a service error. The Vikings benefited from more DHS miscues and opened up a 24-18 lead, before Manderfield’s kill gave the Devils the ball and a chance at 24-19.
Next, the Vikings were called for a double hit, making it 24-20. DHS thought it had pulled within 24-21 when a kill went wide, but it was whistled a tipped ball and match point was awarded to the Vikings.
“We need to work on limiting unforced errors,” Crawford said. “We need to find it within ourselves to dominate and we have to build on that momentum.”
The Blue Devils continue their tough preseason schedule as they play host to West Campus on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
“I scheduled a competitive preseason because I didn’t want to schedule teams so we could just win,” Crawford said. “I want us to play teams that will make us better.
“As soon as we can clean up mistakes on our side of the net, we’re going to be OK.”
— Reach Kim Orendor at firstname.lastname@example.org