COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — With 10 seniors on a squad, it seems leadership would abound.
But Davis High head coach Lori Salvo is still hoping one or two of those seniors will take just a little more ownership when the team needs a push.
"This group is really quiet," said Salvo after the top-ranked Darts defeated Brighton in three sets 25-17, 26-24, 25-19. "And they're so nice. They just don't demand more out of each other."
The Darts had really good moments against the Bengals, who were voted in preseason polls to be the best team in Region 3. But they also had some stretches where they didn't look at all like the 5A defending champs.
"It wasn't pretty at times," said Salvo. "But a win is a win. We just came out a little flat."
There might be explanations for the team's lethargic play — Tuesday was Davis High's first day of school; the 6:30 start was three hours later than Davis normally plays; and the team hadn't played a game in a week.
"But I don't want to make excuses," said Salvo. "We just didn't come out to play."
Senior outside hitter Tani Langston wasn't sure why the team struggled at times.
"I felt like we had energy at first," she said. "There is not really any excuse."
As for senior leadership, she said the seniors are trying to share that responsibility.
"Sometimes it is being excited yourself or being positive. We all just try to lift everyone else."
The Darts got good performances and proved they are deep as the team's two setters distributed the ball well. Camille Walker, senior outside hitter, finished with a match-high 14 kills. Kaylie Kamalu, senior outside hitter, added nine kills.
Setters Kendall Sargent, a junior, and Jamie Selleneit, a senior, earned 12 assists and nine assists, respectively. Langston added five kills and two aces. Sargent added three aces.
Langston said she believes the Darts are capable of living up to the preseason expectations of a top-ranked team, but it will not be easy.
"I think we can definitely have a shot at it if we work for it," said Langston, who will play volleyball at Weber State next season.
Brighton coach Adam Fernandez was proud of how his team with only two seniors approached the match against the state's top-ranked squad.
He scheduled a grueling pre-season that means a 0-4 start for the Bengals. He knows a tough preseason could make or break a young team.
"I always tell them, you have to beat the best to be the best," he said. "They've really kept their heads up when it would be easy to just give up or get discouraged."
Senior outside hitter Mandy Taft finished with eight kills and the Bengals had six aces as a team.
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