There was no sculptor chipping away at statues depicting the seniors among the Davis High boys volleyball team; they immortalized themselves with their performances against Monterey Trail on Tuesday night at The Cage.
That is to say 12th-graders Dan Bonetti, Sam Manderfield and Don-Wook Shin battled with an intensity to be remembered, even as the Blue Devils narrowly lost to the Mustangs in five games, 15-25, 14-25, 25-23, 25-16, 15-11.
It was the last time the veteran trio will play at home, so Tuesday was Senior Day. DHS head coach Julie Crawford honored each senior prior to the contest in a gym nearly filled to the brim.
Each of the seniors were met with cheers as they were identified by name, position, and college aspirations. Shin, who had never played the sport before 2013, was first complimented for his knack as a Devil setter.
Next were Manderfield and Bonetti, both outside hitters and the only players on the DHS squad with former volleyball experience. Because of that latter point, she said, the duo have made for indispensable leaders.
“They really stepped up this season, and tried to guide, encourage and support the younger players,” Crawford said. “We still do the coaching, but they’ve been consistent in showing others the way.
“They’ve had three awesome seasons, and I’m really proud of them. They’ve contributed so much. We’ll definitely have some big shoes to fill.”
Senior Day also is a sign that the Devils’ campaign is nearing its end. After Tuesday’s loss, the local boys have a record of 5-4 in the Delta Valley Conference and 9-9 overall, with just the season finale (Thursday at Elk Grove) remaining.
Possibly the best testament to the aforementioned seniors’ worth was seen early in Tuesday’s match. They worked in unison — with Bonetti often taking the first hit, before Shin set up a Manderfield kill — to give Davis the first-set win.
As the match continued, Manderfield and Bonetti eventually paired for a combined 18 kills, nine each. And the next generation of Blue Devil standouts, such as freshman Nick Simons, bolstered the team-wide count as DHS won the first two games of the match.
But things quieted in later portions of the showdown. A frustration crept onto the once-smiling faces of the local boys as they sailed the ball out of bounds or into the net — over and over again.
When Davis made two and three serving errors in the third and fourth games, respectively, the Mustangs had fully captured the momentum.
Even after Monterey Trail finished off the Devils, Crawford was able to find positives.
“Obviously, it would have been nice to give the seniors a win,” she said. “There were just a few key swings of momentum, and missed serves. All in all, the boys played great — it was one of the most competitive matches all season.
“I did think with the way things were going that we’d take it, but they’re a good team. They’re not just going to roll over and die. We battled, and gave them the best match we could.”
And though the seniors would’ve preferred a win, higher on their list of goals is capping off their high school careers with a second straight postseason appearance. Davis can make the playoffs by winning Thursday.
“We just can’t let up at all,” Crawford said. “We let (the Mustangs) get on too many serving runs in the fourth and fifth games (Tuesday), and they definitely capitalized. We can’t let teams do that.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett