Young Granite Bay continues to prep for boys volleyball playoffs

Grizzlies fall in quarterfinals of their Nolan Invitational; Antioch-Deer Valley takes title
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Granite Bay High School’s boys volleyball team has been a staple of consistency in the Sac-Joaquin Section.

Winners of three of the last four Division I titles, the Grizzlies have become the who’s-who of the sport in the region.

But after graduating the entire starting unit from the 2012 title team, Grizzlies coach Bruce Honberger knew this season was a work in progress despite having six seniors.

“We have six seniors, but last year’s group was all seniors,” Honberger said. “So this is actually a young (team) in terms of experience. So everything they get, they are improving every day, every practice and every tournament.”

Granite Bay was host to the 13th annual Brian Nolan Invitational on Saturday with 26 teams participating at Granite Bay, Del Oro and Antelope.

“We have teams from all over … calling me to get in,” Honberger said. “So it’s getting pretty big. It’s a premier tournament.”

Granite Bay lost the first match to Vista del Lago 25-22, 22-25, 20-18 in Pool C before beating Clovis East and San Francisco-St. Ignatius to advance to the eight-team playoffs.

The Grizzlies, led by seniors Greg Smith and Zack Wilson, were tied 18-18 in the first set and led 23-22 in the second against Antioch-Deer Valley in the quarterfinals but lost 25-21, 25-23.

“It is a competitive day all around,” Honberger said. “We are not unhappy. It’s just how the ball bounces in tournaments.”

Deer Valley, led by 6-foot-10 five-star basketball stud and Kentucky commit Marcus Lee, defeated Clovis 25-21, 31-29 in the final.

Granite Bay (9-8 overall) played in the prestigious Best of the West Tournament in Poway on March 8-9 and finished second in the Bronze Division.

The Grizzlies have two Sierra Foothill League matches this week, a road game Monday at Woodcreek and a home match against Del Oro on Wednesday.

Honberger has the expectation that this team will continue to grow and work toward advancing to the first CIF Northern California Regional, implemented this year. The section champion and runner-up will advance.

“Hopefully in a month, they will be in top shape, just like all the other teams,” Honberger said. “We are expecting really good things out of this year’s team. It’s been a tough road. We’ve had some tough losses, but we’ve had some nice wins and they are playing hard, and that’s all we can ask.”