Bayside’s Sean Davidson had one final play on his mind Thursday night at Ocean Lakes High School.
Leading 16-15 in the fifth set of a thrilling volleyball match against the Coastal Conference rival Dolphins, the setter glanced at fellow senior Luke Martin.
After the Dolphins handled the serve-receive, Davidson collected a pass and set Martin on the outside. Martin’s hit was blocked by Ocean Lake’s Derron Watkins, but the ball came right back to him.
Martin re-delivered the ball to Davidson and signaled for one more try.
“I had to get him for that second try,” Davidson said. “I knew he’d put it away. I trust him.”
He was right.
Martin put away the game-winning kill and staved off Ocean Lakes for a crucial come-from-behind road victory. The Marlins (7-2, 5-1 C-C) had dropped the first two sets and trailed 19-17 in the third before staging one of the season’s most furious rallies.
Davidson (41 assists) orchestrated a versatile offense highlighted by Martin’s 19 kills. Senior middle Mike King (12 kills) and senior outside Max Ebert (11 kills) added to an efficient front row attack. Marlins senior libero Bailey Kraft made his defensive presence felt all over the court.
Bayside coach Dan Keros wasn’t surprised by Thursday’s showing.
His group features 12 seniors, a majority of whom have played varsity for three or four years together.
Keros, now in his 12th year with the Marlins, called it “the most complete team” he’s coached.
So complete that Bayside doesn’t have assigned captains — they all take that role.
Last year, Ocean Lakes knocked out Bayside in the first round of the conference tournament. The Marlins were looking forward to the rematch.
While both teams have respect for one another — many players from both sides play club volleyball together in the offseason — Kero’s says there’s “no love lost” when the rivals meet in the fall.
His players have bonded around that sentiment.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Kraft said after the win. “We’re a family. If we’re on, we have the talent, we can take anybody.”
Dynamic junior-senior combo leads Dolphins
Ocean Lakes coach Michael Boomer was fully aware of Bayside’s legitimacy.
He called this year’s Marlins the best Bayside team he’s seen in his 13 years leading the Dolphins — “hands down.”
Boomer also knows his group is more than capable of winning the conference as well.
Ocean Lakes (7-2, 4-2 C-C) has already defeated the defending 6A state champion Frank W. Cox 3-0 this season, and was just six points away Thursday from handing Bayside the same sweep.
The Dolphins are led by setter Adreyune Husted, a savvy junior captain who was arguably the best player on the floor against the Marlins. He recorded 43 assists, two blocks and two kills.
Husted’s volleyball smarts and brilliant hands, along with a natural ability to make his teammates better, garners praise from Boomer, who says the junior is one of the top two setters he’s ever coached.
The majority of Husted’s dimes are fed to Derron Watkins, a 6-foot-3 middle hitter who began playing volleyball just last season.
The high-flying, energetic senior (26 kills, nine bl
ocks on Thursday) brings a special team-first charisma and a passion to the court that Husted says “makes everybody feel like they did something right.”
Husted and Watkins first played together during the summer of 2014 on a club team. They’ve since set up one of the area’s scariest attacks.
“We automatically found a click,” Husted said of his connection with Watkins. “He’s so athletic. I give him the ball, he can just kind of stay in the air, find it and put it where he wants to.”
Senior Sean Whiteman adds a strong threat to the offense as one of the Dolphin’s hardest outside hitters. Colton Demetriou commands the defense as a ball-hawking libero.
“This team is right for a state run,” Boomer said. “I’ve never had an opportunity quite like this — the conference is wide open.”
Ocean Lakes and Bayside meet again Oct. 13 for one more regular season contest.
Judging by Thursday’s action, volleyball fans wouldn’t mind watching a playoff rematch as well.
Follow Joe Saade’s coverage of Virginia Beach high school sports on Twitter @SouthsideTeams. To submit story ideas, or to suggest players or teams to profile, email him at Joe@home.southsidedaily.com.