It’s a season of seasoning

Juniors come of age as Grizzlies win SFL volleyball co-title
By: Robbie Enos/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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Granite Bay High School’s boys volleyball squad, the two-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section champion, recorded its biggest win of the season Tuesday night by beating Rocklin 3-1 and pulling into a tie for first place in the Sierra Foothill League.

“This has been our biggest accomplishment for the season so far,” Grizzlies coach Bruce Honberger said after the 25-23, 20-25, 25-20, 25-21 victory. “We set goals for ourselves at the beginning of the season, and this was one of them. But our ultimate goal is to win section.”

Granite Bay (25-11 overall) swept Roseville 3-0 on Thursday night to finish 9-1 in the SFL, assuring at least a tie for the league title. Rocklin (25-5) played Nevada Union on Thursday night.

Granite Bay’s team is young with just two seniors that are active on the floor. The collection of juniors were led by senior captain Kyle Howarth, whose 17 kills ran into the Thunder with uncontrollable heat. Alec Naki and Bryan Berry each had 10 kills for the Grizzlies. Carson Odegard had eight kills, Matt Austin seven and Jake Neptune six. All are juniors.

“That’s what’s really making this season special,” Honberger said. “We took some lumps early on, but they learned. We try to get better all the time, and now it doesn’t feel like they’re all juniors. It seems like they’re all seniors. I was very proud of how we came out on fire in that first game.”

Despite all the talent, Honberger feels there are areas in which the team needs to focus heading into the playoffs.

“Everybody has their own thing they need to work on,” he said. “We want to serve a little tougher, play a little better defense; but overall, they’re playing great. The reality is that these are two outstanding volleyball teams.”

Senior Anthony Giannotti had 17 digs for Granite Bay, Odegard had 11, and Neptune and junior Travis Vincenzini had eight apiece.

Granite Bay defeated Rocklin 2-0 in the Brian Nolan Tournament on April 2, and the Thunder blanked the Grizzlies 3-0 five days later in their first league match.

Honberger believes this matchup will carry through the section playoffs. He went as far as to predict Granite Bay and Rocklin would meet for the championship. Both teams will open the playoffs Thursday night.

“We’re intending to meet Rocklin for the section championship in a couple of weeks,” Honberger said. “It’s going to be a fight.”