The Davis High boys needed an arduous comeback to top Elk Grove earlier this season, and wanted to avoid a repeat of that situation on Senior Night Thursday at The Cage.
Senior Andre Foster made sure the Blue Devils had little to worry about, propelling DHS to a 25-16, 18-25, 28-26, 25-22 win with his imposing above-the-net play. The result of the regular-season finale means the Devils (14-5) finished second in the Delta Valley Conference at 8-2, and ensured that the locals will open the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs on Thursday at Ponderosa.
Thursday’s match was preceded by a ceremony honoring Foster and Cliff Tsai as Davis’ two seniors. This was Tsai’s first year on the volleyball team, coming over after playing hoops for the Blue Devils this winter. He was the most vocal member of the net squad’s bench, always keeping DHS motivated.
“Cliff has come a long way,” said Devil co-coach Jordon Friend. “Cliff is the person that keeps us up. He keeps us motivated, and he definitely has the most energy on the team.”
Tsai also made a couple of key plays against Elk Grove, helping Davis win important points.
Foster, meanwhile, started his volleyball career as a junior, switching over from baseball. The pace of action was a major draw for the 6-foot-3 hitter.
“It’s been really fun (playing volleyball),” said Foster, whose dad Dennis Foster is the school’s athletic director. “There’s way more movement, and it’s just fun.”
Foster ended his final regular season on a high note, posting 20 kills and completely controlling the aerial traffic against the Herd. The great performance was nothing new, according to Friend, who said the team has depended on Foster all year long.
“(Foster) has done so well all season,” Friend said. “We can always count on him, and if a serve-receive goes to him we know we can get a side-out real quick.”
Still, Thursday’s match wasn’t easy and the unusually loud crowd in attendance created a playoff atmosphere. The Blue Devils took the first set fairly easily, but Game 2 was a complete reversal with the visitors leading from wire-to-wire to tie the match.
The third set was totally different, as it had enough suspense to take years off a coach’s life.
The locals started out hot, and at one point held what appeared to be a commanding 15-9 lead. Elk Grove battled back, however, and brought the game to a 15-15 deadlock. The two teams then traded points, with neither managing to build more than a two-point advantage.
Eventually, DHS was able to overpower the Thundering Herd with a Sam Bailey block giving the locals a 28-26 win.
The fourth set was, comparatively, a breeze for the Devils, though they had to overcome a five-point deficit to finish off the season sweep. Davis swept every team in its conference save for Grant, which beat the Blue Devils twice.
In beating Elk Grove, the Blue Devil defense had a big night. The group was led, as usual, by junior Mike Basso, who contributed 20 digs.
Defense, as well as the hitting of Foster and sophomore Nick Simons, will be the key on Thursday (7 p.m.) against a powerful Ponderosa squad that won the Delta River League and went 17-9 overall. The Bruins beat the locals in three games back in March, but DHS has shown much improvement since that early-season match.
— Reach Spencer Ault at [email protected]