Following an offseason that could be described with almost any adjective other than uneventful, the Davis High girls volleyball team appeared no worse for the wear in their season opener on Friday evening.
Playing in front of an enthusiastic crowd at The Cage, the Blue Devils topped visiting Vacaville Christian in straight sets, 25-22, 25-23, 25-18.
DHS followed a similar formula in each of the first two sets, falling behind early then slowly inching its way back for a close victory.
“Both of the first games, we came from behind and pulled it out in the end,” said Devil coach Julie Crawford. “It showed me that they’re going to be a team that’s going to fight no matter what and never give up.”
In both of those games the early deficits were due in part to Davis struggling with its serving accuracy. The inconsistency puzzled Crawford, given the copious amounts of practice time the Blue Devils spend on serving.
“We spend a lot of time serving, so I don’t know if (the team’s struggles) were nerves or something else,” Crawford said. “That kind of hurt us a bit in the first two games.”
The first set was tight throughout, with neither team capable of taking a lead greater than four points. DHS went ahead 17-16 off an illegal hit by the Falcons, and the local lead played out like a bungee cord for the rest of the game, stretching and compacting.
VCHS came out in the second set with the idea of tying the match up, and looked like it just might when it took a 17-13 advantage. However, a Devil scoring run — on the strength of good net play and some nice serving by sophomore Karlie Kijanka — brought things back to even.
Kijanka and senior Maya Gilardi were the Davis standouts all match long as both set the tone with a number of powerful spikes. The pair managed to hit at a .400 average, which is akin to hitting .400 in baseball.
“That (average) is really high for outside hitters,” Crawford explained. “It means that they’re doing really well and getting a lot of kills.”
The Blue Devils didn’t get off to a great start in the third set but, in contrast to the first two, they quickly launched a long scoring run and ran away with the victory. The decisive spurt came thanks to a combination of Olivia Millstone serves, Kijanka and Evelyn Brady spikes along with some Falcon mistakes. By the time the dust cleared, the locals had an 18-11 lead, the same margin by which they eventually won.
Starting the season off with a win is always a positive, but even more so for a DHS squad that now prepares for a brutal week of wall-to-wall volleyball. It begins Tuesday with a Foundation Match against rival Pioneer, followed by matches with Woodland (Wednesday) and Dixon (Thursday).
Though each match is at home, the stretch of back-to-back-to-back outings promises to be a tough test. But adversity is nothing new to this particular batch of Blue Devils.
— Reach Spencer Ault at email@example.com