*Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a 12-part series previewing Davis High’s spring sports.
After a brilliant 2012 in which Davis High finished second in the Delta Valley Conference and made the playoffs, the Blue Devil boys volleyball squad hopes to build on that foundation season.
“I have a young team, so I’m extremely excited at the potential of these boys,” says DHS coach Julie Crawford. “My hopes are to continue with (last year’s success) … We would like to win league and make playoffs (again).”
Returners Sam Manderfield and Daniel Bonetti join first-player Don Wook Shin as the only Devil seniors on Crawford’s 13-man roster.
“I am looking to all three of these boys for their experience and senior leadership,” the coach continues. “I know they will help lead the team to many wins. Sam and Dan bring experience, power and leadership to the court.”
Davis will get its first test at 5 p.m. Friday when Yuba City comes calling at The Cage.
Last year, the Blue Devils handled the Honkers in straight sets and the locals hope history repeats itself. But on the horizon, DHS has booked some mettle-toughening opponents as it moves toward a rugged conference schedule.
After YC, Davis entertains Sacramento on Tuesday (5 p.m.) before heading out on the road for McClatchy (Thursday) and Capital Christian (next Friday). The Blue Devils will play in the UC Davis Tournament on March 2 before returning to The Cage against Oak Ridge (March 5).
Roseville, Pleasant Valley (Chico), Pioneer and Woodland also are on the preseason schedule — as is Crawford’s alma mater Ponderosa, the school that beat DHS in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section postseason in 2012.
There will be no freshman or junior varsity volleyball teams this spring, but Crawford thinks her 11 newcomers will evolve to make real noise once DVC play starts at Franklin on March 21.
Juniors Jake deVarennes (Da Vinci) and Andre Foster will be augmented by six sophomores — Milton Hong, Evan Meerscheidt, Dominic Fannijiang, Rodney Glasgow, Mike Basso and Richard Lu.
Holmes freshman Nick Simons and Da Vinci ninth-grader Reese Peterson round out the promising squad.
So, with last year’s DVC winner Grant (26-2, 10-0) expected to be the power again this spring, what are the keys to DHS wresting away that conference crown and going deep in the playoffs?
“It’s important that I develop each player,” Crawford explains. “My entire roster (has) great potential … and I am excited how boys volleyball is finally growing in popularity at DHS.
“All of the teams in our league have potential, so with the boys program it’s hard to know what to expect each season. My job is to prepare my boys to get the job done, no matter who we are playing. We just have to take care of business on our side of the net.”
Crawford said while the varsity-level talent is solid, she wishes there would have been a greater turnout so JV and/or freshman teams could work as feeders for the main team.
But Davis isn’t alone. No DVC school will have JV volleyball.
So, as the season starts in earnest with Yuba City, Crawford — who doubles as the DHS girls coach in the fall — issued an invite to Blue Devil fans:
“The boys are very exciting to watch, so come out and see a game.”
Notes: DHS finished 15-12 last year — a vast improvement over the 5-12 mark of 2011. The Blue Devils went 3-3 in the 2012 UCD tourney, losing a final game to powerhouse Lowell, but beating Alhambra (Martinez), Woodcreek and DVC foe Laguna Creek.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.