The Deer Valley High School boys volleyball team closed the book on an unforgettable season last week, falling in four games to Washington High of Fremont to end its playoff run.
Although head coach Lou Panzella would like to have seen his Wolverines reach the North Coast Section Division I finals as they did a year ago, he said they still gave him a season he'll always remember.
Considering almost half of our team had never played a competitive volleyball match before this season, and that we won a league title and made it to the quarterfinals of North Coast was amazing, Panzella said. These guys had tremendous work ethic and played with a lot of heart. I'm really proud of what they've accomplished. They should be proud of themselves, too.
Deer Valley (26-6) blazed through the Bay Valley Athletic League with an undefeated record to capture the program's second consecutive league title.
After sweeping James Logan in round one of the NCS tournament, the No. 6 seed Wolverines met a familiar foe in the quarterfinals: No. 3 seeded Washington, to whom Deer Valley fell in five games on April 16 in Antioch, and who earned the 20-25, 35-33, 25-21, 25-21 victory the second time around.
They did pretty much what we thought they'd do, Panzella said. They have a couple of outstanding hitters, they play tenacious defense and at the end they just had more firepower than we did. I have no regrets, though. I thought we played really well.
Kyle Brawley finished the match with 16 kills and 11 digs while Mark Cadwallader made 49 assists and 10 digs. Shahir Wahidi contributed 14 kills, two blocks and 24 digs.
Deer Valley graduates just two of its varsity players in Brawley and Cadwallader this spring. The rest are expected to return next year.
Hopefully, some of the lessons they've learned this season and the confidence they earned they'll carry with them beyond the volleyball court, Panzella said. As a coach, you want your players learn more than just volleyball.