Although the Davis High boys volleyball team lost on Thursday, it didn’t go out quietly.
In a rematch of a first-round game from the 2012 Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs the Blue Devils came within three points of forcing a fifth game, but eventually lost to Ponderosa in four, 24-26, 25-21, 10-25, 22-25, at The Cage.
In the first game, the Bruins jumped out to a 12-8 lead due in large part to several DHS serving errors. It was a problem that would plague the Devils all night.
After a Ponderosa kill, Davis senior Daniel Bonetti started to put his 6-foot-8 frame to good use, recording a block and two kills on three consecutive points to cut the advantage to 13-11.
The Bruins followed with a mini-run, but freshman Nick Simons answered for the Blue Devils. It looked like he was ready to hammer the ball past the Ponderosa blockers, but instead, Simons put up a basketball-like floater that dropped right in the middle of the defense to cut the lead to 21-18. On the next possession, Bonetti again used his long arms to record one of his seven blocks on the night to bring the locals within two.
Then, an odd moment happened that favored DHS: A Ponderosa player was unable to handle a Devil serve and the ball shot up into the air like a firework, hit part of the “cage” near the top of the gym, and bounced off at a funny angle. The Bruins were unable to react; Davis was within one.
Bonetti then smashed a screamer of a serve that PHS again could not handle, tying the game at 23-23. The Bruins quickly recorded a kill to get a match point and, if it hadn’t been for a phenomenal Sam Manderfield dig, the game would have ended right there. However, a serving error and a block sealed a Ponderosa win in the opening encounter.
Game 2 was deadlocked for quite a while with the teams trading blow for blow and Manderfield and Bonetti providing much of the firepower for the Blue Devils.
Toward the end of the game, DHS found itself down by four points. However, two quick kills from Simons, a thunderous spike from Bonetti and a few Bruin errors quickly put the locals on top 21-20.
After committing another serving error, the Devils then went to their two senior leaders to close the game out for them, Bonetti and Manderfield delivered, and Davis prevailed, 25-21.
During a letdown third-game performance by DHS, the pair couldn’t recreate the magic as Ponderosa blocked six shots on its way to an easy 25-10 victory.
“(Manderfield) and (Bonetti) are our go to hitters,” said Blue Devils coach Julie Crawford. “So all the other team has to do is realize that we go to them a majority of the time and then their blockers start to camp out on them. What we’re struggling with is, on our team we know that the ball goes to them a lot, so my goal is to have all my other hitters ready, but they just weren’t available (Thursday).”
Still, the fourth game went down to the wire as the locals played great defense and jumped out to a 7-3 lead, forcing the Bruins to call timeout.
After the short intermission, a Manderfield spike was followed by a monstrous block from Andre Foster.
Later, with the Devils nursing a three-point lead, Manderfield sparked a key run. The big hitter recorded two kills before Bonetti used his incredible length to dive for a ball which was then hammered long over the end line. When Richard Lu floated a ball from over the Ponderosa defense into the corner of the court, the DHS advantage was six.
However, costly Blue Devil errors allowed Ponderosa to get back into the game, and with the score tied at 22-22, a kill, a lifting penalty, and a netting penalty closed out the game for the visitors.
Notes: Ponderosa is Crawford’s alma mater. In fact, Bruins coach Amy Stockett, was one of Crawford’s prep mentors. … Manderfield finished with 13 kills, Bonetti had 10 kills and seven blocks, Foster added five blocks and Simons posted four kills. … Ponderosa won the playoff game last season in three games, 25-23, 25-21, 25-22.