By Shannon Perry and Morgan Kong,
In the last few minutes of the third set of Davis High’s varsity women’s volleyball game Monday evening, onlookers held their breath as the ball bounced back and forth across the net like a boomerang, contemplating when to fall and declare the winner of the 24-24 tie.
In the end, Elk Grove defeated DHS in all three sets of the league match with a final set score of 26-24.
“It’s always an intense moment at the end,” coach Julie Crawford said. “I was just hoping that the girls could find that momentum to get a string of points there at the end.”
The entire game was a series of tie breaking points. In the first set, the score was tight until Elk Grove broke away, winning 25-16.
The Blue Devils did not let this get them down. In the second set Davis spiked notable kills from Kate Thomson, Tiya Kamba-Griffin and Lauren Wilcox, which kept the score neck and neck with Elk Grove. Spirited cheers from teammates and enthusiastic fans followed these victories.
However, the score of the second set was 26-24, the same as the third.
In the third and final set, Davis sent the ball crashing over the net two times short of Elk Grove including a seemingly choreographed kill from Mia Gladding following a set from Emily Perry.
However, some Davis athletes attribute their loss to above the court in the referee’s stand.
“He was up there yawning,” Kamba-Griffin said.
The JV match that preceded the varsity team’s loss was less disappointing.
Although the Blue Devils had previously defeated the Thundering Herd this season, they needed overtime to win the first set 28-26. DHS turned it around and dominated in the second set with 25-18.
“Our goal for every game is to compete to the highest level; it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the net,” coach Jason Balmes said.
DHS started the first set strong with outside hitter and sophomore Elise Jacobson spiking the first kill and serving 3 points in a row.
Possession of the ball began to swing back and forth between the two teams, and leading 20-15, the Blue Devils suddenly lost momentum. The two teams met neck and neck at 20-20, and DHS and Elk Grove traded points.
A lack of communication caused the ball to drop after a save from libero Celine Varland and the Blue Devils and the Thundering Herd were tied 25-25 in overtime.
Nevertheless, two kills and a decisive play from DHS set the score at 28-26 and the Blue Devils pulled through to win the first set.
In a run in the beginning of the second set, DHS led Elk Grove by nine points at 15-6. Sophomores Varland and Samantha Purves shone with a series of solid hits and tight saves. The team ended the set 25-18 and won the match.
Although they won, the Blue Devils are still working to refine their technique.
“I think there were a few errors that were unnecessary,” Balmes said, “shanking balls and servicing, stuff we know how to do.”
The players also think there is room for improvement.
“I think we could play a lot smarter; our hitters are learning how to play smarter,” sophomore setter Bailee Nicolet said.
But while placement is a common concern, players agree that the “team did really well in staying positive” and that they “have really good defense”.
The Blue Devils have another shot at a win on Wednesday when they face the St. Francis Troubadours.