The move wasn’t made with the intent to motivate Jillian Davis.
But Coach Nancy Tinkham’s decision not to start the outside hitter
in her first career volleyball match at Flintridge Sacred Heart
Academy wound up being one of the best coaching moves in Tinkham’s
illustrious eight-year tenure.
Because once Tinkham inserted Davis into the lineup in the second
game of the Tologs’ annual showdown with intracity rival La Canada,
she rarely ever came out.
Not during the remainder of that match, when she had 11 kills in
Flintridge Sacred Heart’s five-game win.
Not during the rest of her breakout sophomore year, which was
highlighted by a 21-kill, 23-dig performance against Cerritos Whitney
in the CIF Southern Section Division IVAA quarterfinals.
Not during her junior campaign when she amassed 174 kills, 205
digs and 40 aces.
And especially not during her record-setting senior season.
Initially thought to be on the verge of even making the Tologs’
varsity roster in 2000 -- before joining fellow sophomore Kacey Knauf
-- Davis let nothing stand in her way of conquering the first of many
challenges during her brilliant career.
And it wasn’t too long before Tinkham realized that among the
plethora of individuals who had excelled on the court during her
tenure, that Davis would ultimately wind up as one of the best who
ever played up the hill.
Because in an era where attributes such as “competitive spirit”
are falsely bestowed upon too many student-athletes, Davis was a
competitor in every sense of the word.
And it was that overwhelming desire to succeed, combined with her
outstanding leadership skills, unselfish attitude and amazing
physical talents that not only made Davis the most charismatic player
on the area’s most captivating team, but also earned her the honor of
being selected as the 2002 Burbank Leader All-Area Player of the Year
by the writers and editors of the News-Press and Leader.
“I liked being the underdog,” Davis said. “After I didn’t start
against La Canada, I always pushed myself to start and play as much
as possible. I was supposed to be on [junior varsity], but I knew
that wasn’t going to happen.
“I’m so competitive that I’m not even allowed to play games in my
own house. With me, it’s all or nothing.”
And as Davis’ senior season unfolded, it became apparent that it
would be all or nothing for Flintridge Sacred Heart in its quest to
reach the Division IVAA championship match for the first time since
After falling in the semifinals the previous two years, the
17-year-old made it her mission to advance to the CIF final, and with
the Loyola Marymount University-bound Knauf setting her the ball and
the area’s best supporting cast -- featuring five All-Area selections
-- around her, it didn’t take long for the Tologs to become one of
Southern California’s best.
They lived up to that billing by pushing two-time CIF champion and
three-time state winner L.A. Marymount more than any team did in the
postseason, dropping a pair of classic four-game battles in the
division final and the Southern California regional semifinals.
The 5-foot-9 talent -- who will walk on at the University of
California at Berkeley -- recorded an area-leading 370 kills in 89
games, which is the second-highest single-season total in program