Tuesday night's four-game victory over De La Salle not only improved the Deer Valley High School boys volleyball team's Bay Valley Athletic League record to a perfect 16-0 and clinched sole possession of the league title, it also proved to the host Wolverines that they were indeed ready for the playoffs.
Deer Valley's 25-20, 22-25, 28-26, 25-18 victory boosted its overall record to 24-5 as it heads into the postseason North Coast Section Division I playoffs next week with back-to-back league titles under its belt.
The Wolverines jumped out to a six-point lead in the first game behind junior Shahir Wahidi's hot hand from the line of service. The Wolverines rode that cushion to a game-one victory. We couldn't have asked for a better start, said Deer Valley coach Lou Panzella. That set a nice tone for us. We didn't have to worry about the scoreboard; we could just play each point.
Game two saw another quick start for Deer Valley, but soon the Wolverines fell into what Panzella called a lull, to trail 24-21. A missed De La Salle serve gave Deer Valley possession of the ball and they capitalized for the win.
These guys don't get caught up in the score, Panzella said of his players. They know they can't change what's already happened and so they just go out and play each point from there. I think it was key for us to come back and win that second game, just to prove to them that they are capable of anything.
Deer Valley points were harder to come by in game three, when De La Salle got hot on offense. But the momentum shifted once again in game four as the Wolverines sealed the match victory.
De La Salle was pretty good. They gave us all that we could handle, Panzella said. I'm proud of our guys for what they've accomplished. They definitely exceeded my expectations coming into this season. If you would have told me in mid-February that we would be 16-0 with an automatic bid to North Coast, I probably wouldn't have believed it. But they deserve it; they all worked very hard this season.
Before the match, Deer Valley's three senior players were honored in a special Senior Night ceremony. Outside hitter Kyle Brawley, setter Mark Cadwallader and libero James Higgs presented their mothers with flowers before taking the court in their last regular season match.
Panzella will find out Saturday what seed his team earns in the playoffs, which begin Tuesday, May 13.
To find out what seed the Wolverines are given on Saturday and where they'll play on Tuesday night, visit www.deervalleysports.com and click the Boys Volleyball icon.