Fickle is the nature of momentum in volleyball, as the Davis High girls team can attest to after their loss to Monterey Trail on Tuesday.
That’s because the Blue Devils would’ve been assumed to claim victory in The Cage if one were to judge by the beginning of each game in the 25-16, 24-26, 25-18, 25-16 loss to the Mustangs.
But despite an earnest effort, DHS took its first Delta Valley Conference loss, and now stands at 3-1 in league play. MTHS entered the contest with an identical record, and now sits atop the DVC at 4-0.
It wasn’t clear early on whether Tuesday’s battle would continue this season’s narrative of being decisive in favor of the Devils, who had demolished every other league opponent in a 3-0 shutout fashion.
Davis was leaning on the combined power of Zoe Hunt-Murray and Maya Gilardi throughout, a pair who traded off for kills in the first game to keep the locals close. But there was no slacking on the part of the Monterey Trail offense either.
Despite some impressive digs by Blue Devil Mackenzie Harrison, the Mustang attackers often found holes with strategic placement — a few times sending kills right through the arms of DHS blockers like a field goal.
Those kills added up, and began to push Monterey Trail in front. Once the Mustangs reached 12-9, the Devils never again came within three points of their rival before the game closed out, 25-16.
The second game featured Karlie Kijanka on backup kill duty for Davis, a role in which she excelled. The locals appeared most cohesive throughout this portion of Tuesday’s bout, and that was reflected in the 26-24 decision in their favor.
The DHS squad had taken an immediate leap up to 7-2 as the third game got underway — the product of a pair of kills by Hunt-Murray and back-to-back aces by Samantha Moore.
But the tables turned when Monterey Trail took possession after that, as the visitors once more applied a height advantage and knocked down kill after kill. The Mustangs led 13-9 seemingly moments later.
The only thing keeping the Blue Devils’ chances of a comeback afloat were the four serving errors their opponents accrued, but soon the Mustangs kept it between the lines enough for a 25-18 win.
The last game of the night had local fans once more thinking good thoughts. DHS seemed to tactically match Monterey Trail when, for example, Moore turned her usual set into a floater that just crossed the net.
Or when Gilardi, reacting to the tall blockers on the Mustangs’ side of the net, lobbed a kill just over the tips of their hands. This brought the Devils a quick 10-5 lead.
But Monterey Trail adjusted, taking the next eight points. Davis only returned with another six points and fell 25-16.
Still, Blue Devil mentor Julie Crawford said after Tuesday’s match that there was plenty to appreciate about the local girls’ performance.
“But everything that we did well, (the Mustangs) also did well,” she added. “There were so many momentum swings. There were so many times we had opportunities. Unfortunately, our communication broke down.”
There’s not much respite for the Devils, who travel to Elk Grove for another conference matchup on Thursday at 6 p.m.
— Reach Brett Johnson at email@example.com or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett.