The 6A volleyball tournament is now underway and to get an idea of how evenly spread the field is, one needs only to watch the 14th-seeded Davis Darts.
The Darts (13-15) defeated the 19th-seeded Granger Lancers (9-9) in straight sets Tuesday evening in Kaysville to book a date with a 3rd-seeded Lone Peak squad in the second round. Davis used its plethora of strong hitters to secure what ended up being a comfortable victory for the Darts.
In fact, if one was to judge the Darts on their hitting ability alone, it may come as a surprise that the team has a losing record.
“We have a lot of hitters,” Davis head coach McKay Barker said. “That’s nice because we don’t have to rely on one (hitter). In the past a lot of programs have kind of relied on just one hitter and luckily we have multiple.”
Of all the hitters Davis deploys, none have been stronger than junior Aubrey Nielson, who led the team in kills this season. Nielsen sent a team-high 11 kills towards the Lancers’ side of the net Tuesday night.
“Aubrey definitely stands out as one of our best (hitters),” Barker said. “When she plays well, we tend to do well, which is a lot of pressure to put on a kid but she handles it well for the most part. She takes criticism well, and she’s a really determined player.”
Other statistical leaders for the Darts included Kate Sargent (seven kills and two digs) and Bella Roth (18 assists and four digs).
Though their power-hitting game ultimately helped knock off Granger, the scrappy defending of the Lancers sometimes gave the Darts issues according to Barker.
“They have a lot of girls who have great ball control,” Barker said. “They also have girls who are willing to run into bleachers to get balls and that’s something that we can take from them and hopefully add to our game.”
After never trailing in what was a fairly comfortable opening set victory for the Darts, Granger used their ball control to open the second set with five straight points, prompting a timeout from Davis. But the five-point lead ended up being the largest of the match for the Lancers, as Davis ended up scoring 25 of the next 32 points to win the second set comfortably as well.
Though Granger scored a game-high 18 points in the third set, the Darts once again never felt threatened as they won the match with a 25-18 victory.
The level of comfort the Darts felt in the opening round will undoubtedly be absent as it makes the journey to Highland to face defending champion Lone Peak this Thursday at 5 p.m..
While their hitting may be on the level of 6A’s best teams, Barker said that the other parts of their game will need to be fine-tuned if they hope to pull off the upset in the second round.
“We struggle with our serve-receive and that makes it hard to get our hitters the ball, but when we do that well, that’s when we excel,” Barker said while adding that they’ll just take the game one point at a time against the Knights.
“If we serve and serve-receive well and get the ball to our hitters, I think we’ll be able to get some points and that’s all I want. If we get points and happen to end up on top with more points, then good for us, but we’re going to work really hard tomorrow to help us prepare for it.”