Joe Davidson

Prep notes: No. 11 Davis fighting for Delta League volleyball title behind battle-tested coach

Not long ago, Julie Crawford was fighting to keep her job as volleyball coach at Davis High School.

Now secure in her job, Crawford has the Blue Devils fighting for a Delta League championship, climbing to No. 11 in The Bee’s rankings following a signature victory over powerhouse No. 5 St. Francis.

Crawford was twice relieved of her coaching duties, including last winter, following complaints from a school board member whose daughter had been benched and then cut. It played out like a soap opera in a small town big on sports, hitting the community paper like a firestorm as scores of letters written to the editor in support of Crawford and staff commentaries blasting the school board for being petty. The public outcry made national news. Backed by players, parents, teachers, students, community members and alumni, Crawford regained her post each time as the school board voted for reinstatement.

Davis’ 3-2 victory over St. Francis avenged an earlier 3-1 loss to the Troubadors and left Crawford beaming. The Blue Devils (21-7) are in a three-way race for the league title with St. Francis and Pleasant Grove, and those teams could face each other in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs that start next month.

“Definitely one of my proudest coaching moments so far,” Crawford said. “We played with confidence. My team knows I believe in them. They work hard and train hard every single day for moments like this. These are the games we never forget.”

Crawford took over the Davis program in 2011 after the Blue Devils struggled at 9-18 and 7-14 the previous two seasons. With Crawford, Davis has gone 18-11, 23-8 and 20-12. Davis last reached the section Division I finals in 2007 and it last won a title in 2001. Dating to the 1980s, however, Davis has 14 section final appearances, six D-I banners and two in D-II.

Davis features senior outside hitter, and three-year varsity starter, Maya Gilardi, who leads the team in kills (272 entering the week) and is second in digs (233). Sophomores Karlie Kijanka and Samantha Moore also have played key roles this season: Kijanka is second on the team in kills with 238 – making for a potent hitting duo with Gilardi – and Moore leads the team in digs with 382. Other players who have made this season include senior setter Makena Sherwood (653 assists), senior Carolyn Brady (33 blocks) and Irene Rutazihana (60 kills, 31 blocks).

“This team has good chemistry and is definitely proving they work well together, which is bringing us a lot of success,” Crawford said. “I think as the years pass, I learn and grow as a coach, which helps in the development and successes of my teams each year.”

Volleyball Classic – Defending CIF State Division I champion Mitty of San Jose beat Pitman of Turlock 2-0 on Saturday to win the 7th Stockton Volleyball Classic.

No. 1-ranked El Camino placed fifth in the prestigious Delta bracket after losing to Pitman. Rocklin was sixth, defending tournament and state D-I champion Granite Bay was seventh, St. Francis ninth and Oak Ridge 10th. In the Lincoln bracket, Rio Americano went 4-1 to place second.


After starting the season 1-5, No. 5 Grant has gone 9-2-3 and 5-2-2 against Bee Top 20 teams in soaring from 14th in the rankings.

The losses during that stretch were to top-ranked Jesuit (2-1) and No. 4 Davis (2-1) with wins over No. 8 Pleasant Grove (1-0), No. 14 Franklin (1-0 and later a 0-0 tie) and No. 18 Monterey Trail (3-2). Jose Ferrat, Felipe Barajas, Panfilo Alvarez, Elvin Lara and Ruben Segura have led the way for Grant.

▪ Kristian Heptner of Christian Brothers leads the section with 32 goals. Liberty Ranch’s Marcus Guerrero is tied for second (28).

▪ Sebastian Santos of Encina and Isaac Martinez of Galt are tied for third in the area with 26 goals.

▪ Erick Marzan of Lutheran of Elk Grove leads the section with 275 saves and Felix Medina of Monterey Trail leads section large schools with 115.

▪ Baltazar Silva of Natomas leads the area with 15 assists with B.J. Askew of Sacramento Country Day second with 14 and Ruben Mendoza of Natomas and James Ramos of Antelope tied for third at 13.


Last week’s ranking in parentheses

1. Jesuit (1) 19-1-1

2. Christian Brothers (2) 11-1-3

3. Granite Bay (3) 14-1

4. Davis (4) 12-4

5. Grant (14) 10-7-3

6. Galt (7) 14-3-4

7. Capital Christian (10) 12-3

8. Pleasant Grove (5) 6-5-4

9. Cosumnes Oaks (6) 12-2-3

10. Whitney (13) 8-3-5

11. Bella Vista (8) 8-5-4

12. Del Oro (11) 11-3-1

13. Oak Ridge (12) 10-3

14. Franklin (9) 7-6-3

15. Rio Americano (15) 7-7-1

16. Natomas (16) 12-3-2

17. Placer (17) 10-1-4

18. Monterey Trail (18) 9-8-3

19. Liberty Ranch (19) 11-7-2

20. Rosemont (–) 14-5

Mike Finnerty


Last week’s ranking in parentheses

1. El Camino (1) 35-2

2. Granite Bay (2) 22-6

3. Rocklin (5) 21-12

4. Oak Ridge (6) 18-4

5. St. Francis (4) 22-8

6. Pleasant Grove (3) 22-7

7. Oakmont (7) 23-3

8. Christian Brothers (8) 16-9

9. Bella Vista (9) 15-8

10. Yuba City (11) 23-8

11. Davis (12) 21-7

12. Roseville (10) 24-10

13. Rio Americano (13) 23-10

14. Whitney (14) 18-11

15. Placer (15) 11-10

16. Elk Grove (16) 17-10

17. Ponderosa (17) 14-16

18. Nevada Union (–) 12-15

19. Monterey Trail (–) 7-8

20. Franklin (–) 15-12

Mike Finnerty