ELK GROVE — Starting the match without two key players — and losing another one halfway through — had the Davis High boys volleyball a bit out of synch in the first game against host Monterey Trail.
But turning up the defense late in Game 2 proved to be the catalyst for change and the Blue Devils finished with some of their best volleyball of the season in a 17-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-19 victory.
There were a gaggle of heroes for DHS (13-5) as it remained in second place in the Delta Valley Conference at 7-2.
On defense, juniors Mike Basso and Dominic Fannijiang led the way as Basso was stellar on serve-receive and Fannijiang finished with 15 digs.
“We really found our groove late in that second game,” said Devil co-coach Jordon Friend. “We started playing really good defense and then carried that momentum the rest of the way.”
Milton Hong, a diminutive Davis defensive specialist, also was strong in the back and even got a kill when he stepped up to fill in for a missing teammate in the middle.
Speaking of kills, local sophomore Nick Simons had a season-best 31 of them with a hitting percentage of .257. Senior Andre Foster chipped in 15 kills, hitting at .270.
“Nick was getting them from all over the court and really brought a lot of energy,” Friend explained. “Those two guys (with Simons at No. 1) are the top two in the league when it comes to hitting percentage, which is huge for us.”
The two Blue Devil standouts overshadowed DVC kills leader Charles King of Monterey Trail — with the help of DHS freshman Ron Chandi, whose key block on King in Game 3 ignited a late Devil run that turned a 20-20 tie into a 25-21 set win.
Also deserving of mention was Davis junior setter Evan Meerscheidt, who finished with 40 assists.
“Evan ran the offense well, probably the best he has all season,” Friend said. “He’s become a really good setter and is a leader out there for us. I couldn’t ask for anything more from him.”
With the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament set to begin next week, the Blue Devils turn their attention to their Thursday season finale, a 5 p.m. home match with Elk Grove.