The home-court Wolverines finished third to De La Salle and St. Patrick/St. Vincent in the Saturday tournament. Deer Valley is off to another hot start, as the team held a 14-2 record after the invitational. Both losses were inflicted by St. Patrick/St. Vincent from Vallejo.
“To date, the Deer Valley varsity team has done exceptionally well,” head coach Lou Panzella wrote in an e-mail. “We are getting better with every match and every practice. The more touches of the volleyball we have, the better we become.”
At the Logan Bailey Invitational, the Wolverines toppled Granada and Northgate in pool play, then defeated Placer and Mission San Jose in the gold division playoffs. Deer Valley then faced the St. Patrick/St. Vincent Bruins, ranked No. 14 in the state by MaxPreps. The Bruins won the first match 25-22 and finished off the Wolverines with a 25-23 victory.
De La Salle defeated St. Patrick/St. Vincent in the finals.
While Panzella has been pleased with what Deer Valley has accomplished so far this season, he still feels the team is a work in progress. The Wolverines field only one senior starter – opposite hitter Noah Labonte – but compensate for their lack of experience with size. Labonte, juniors Marcus Lee, Brandon Guardamagni and Jeff Brown, sophomore Thio Grigley and freshmen Jared Stark and Jordan Ewert are all taller than 6 feet.
“Our success for the remainder of this season and into the playoffs,” Panzella wrote, “will depend upon our improving our on-court communication skills, ball control and team blocking, and more consistent yet aggressive serving. We need to become a more consistent and better digging and scrambling team.”
Every other Bay Valley Athletic League team save Liberty competed in the Logan Bailey Invitational. Pittsburg placed 18th, Freedom 19th, Heritage 21st and Antioch 22nd.
In the bronze division playoffs, Pittsburg defeated Concord and Freedom but lost to Clayton Valley. Heritage lost to Granada and rallied to beat Antioch and Concord. Antioch lost to Clayton Valley and Heritage.