Prep volleyball: Darts set sights on 5-A repeat

Oct 31 2012 - 5:22pm

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(SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald)
Davis High’s Kendall Sargent celebrates a point during the state 5-A volleyball championship against Lehi in Orem last season. Sargent and the Darts are eyeing another 5-A crown in 2012.
(SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald)
Davis High’s Kendall Sargent celebrates a point during the state 5-A volleyball championship against Lehi in Orem last season. Sargent and the Darts are eyeing another 5-A crown in 2012.

KAYSVILLE -- They are three-time defending Region 1 kingpins. But can the nationally-ranked Darts repeat as state 5-A volleyball champions and become the first back-to-back winners since Lone Peak in 2007 and 2008?

"We want to win it again. No question, that's our goal," said Davis High senior outside hitter Camille Walker. "We all have to be on the same page, and if we all play our best then we'll have no regrets no matter the outcome.

"This gives us more of a drive knowing what it's like to win it. We will do anything to win it again," she said. "I think it's between us, Pleasant Grove and Lone Peak. We have the biggest target on our back since we're the defending state champion."

The Darts, who sit No. 35 in the PrepVolleyball.com Century Club National High School Rankings -- up from No. 41 in the previous rankings, bring a 10-match winning streak into the 5-A tournament which gets under way Friday in Utah Valley University's Utah Community Credit Union Center.

"I'm so excited and can't wait for this weekend. I'm freaking out," said the 17-year-old Walker, who has verbally committed to BYU. "I couldn't be happier going to BYU."

Walker's older sister, Kayla, finished her college career with the Cougars in 2009. She is playing professionally in Finland.

Walker, a three-year starter, is one of four Davis seniors to have given a verbal college commitment.

"We've been focusing on serving and passing, which are fundamentals and skills of the game," Walker said on Tuesday. "It's been good having time off from matches, but practice has been more intense. We'll taper down for the next couple of days."

Despite graduating six seniors off the 2011 state 5-A title team, the Darts (29-1 overall) haven't missed a beat this season.

Davis' lone loss was to Pleasant Grove at the Rocky Mountain Champions Classic on Sept. 8 at Lone Peak. The Darts swept the Vikings in their Aug. 21 season opener at Kaysville.

"We have some juniors who have really stepped it up and filled in those positions," Walker said. "We are definitely where we want to be and peaking at the right time. We're used to playing early in club tournaments."

Davis plays Kearns at 9 a.m. in its Friday 5-A tournament opener. Up next is the Bingham-Alta winner at noon, barring a total Darts' collapse.

"I love my team, on and off the court. Everybody has the drive to win," Walker said. "The team has been able to grow together the past three years. Coach (Lori) Salvo came in (from Viewmont) when we were sophomores."

Salvo played on Davis' state 3-A title teams in 1974 and 1975, later coaching the Vikings to 5-A crowns in 2003 and 2004.

"Last year before state we watched video of when Viewmont won state and that got us fired up," Walker said. "We said, 'We want to do that.' The competition will be good. Winning it last year was the highlight of my life.

"It's scary to think about what may happen when you get overconfident," she said. "We have to stay humble, not get cocky and take it one match at a time. If we play Pleasant Grove again, it will be in the semifinals (on Saturday). But we have to take care of our matches on Friday first.

"Losing to Pleasant Grove took a lot of the pressure off and let us know we're beatable. But we have to improve as much as any team," Walker said. "Winning it again would mean more because I'm a senior and you want to end on a good note in your last match."

So which Darts team -- Walker's junior year (30-4) or this season -- is the better team?

"Skill-wise, I wouldn't want to rank one team over the other. They're pretty close and we're doing different rotations. I'm more confident being back outside after playing setter last year because I've played outside hitter a lot. It doesn't matter who does what as long as we win and we're happy for each other."

Salvo has an 87-11 record with a state 5-A championship and a third-place finish during her three years at Davis.

"My concern is they come ready to play. Will they show up and play to their full potential?" Salvo said. "We are ready for the competition and the fun. Being defending state champion, everybody wants to beat you.

"It's not something brand new this year," she said. "This year we're not flying under the radar going into the state tournament. I'm not surprised we're in this position because I had a lot of players back who got varsity experience. I had four players who each made a big impact as a junior or a sophomore."

That foursome includes Walker, Utah State commit Kaylie Kamalu, Weber State commit Tanisha Langston and junior Kendall Sargent.

"I have never had this talented of a group and I was drooling (back in 2010)," Salvo said. "It will be incredible to win it again. It's my alma mater and Davis won the first two volleyball titles when it was offered as a sanctioned sport.

"Everybody wants to beat us. Lone Peak and Pleasant Grove were not happy they were not in the finals," she said. "I'm never too overconfident. It's being sure of ourselves, knowing what we're about, dealing with internal pressure and not getting too uptight. It's so nice that we're not going in undefeated this year.

"Monday's practice was an 'A' and Tuesday's was a 'B,' " Salvo said. "Wednesday will be short and good, and Thursday we'll serve and pass and be good to go."

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