A lady walked out of one of the Corona del Mar High gyms on Wednesday, making sure to hush whoever made noise. Students were taking tests inside the gym.
At CdM, it was Advanced Placement exam week.
Evan Dean had taken his tests in the gym. Now, it was time for him to get back to work inside the gym and prepare for the Sea Kings' first test in the CIF Southern Section Division II boys' volleyball playoffs.
The students had cleared out of the gym in time for Dean and his teammates to practice. The day before CdM opened the playoffs in the second round on Thursday, Coach Steve Conti asked Dean how many shirts he goes through in practice.
"About six … on a hot day," Dean replied.
Whoever is supplying Dean his shirts, keep them coming. The Sea Kings (26-4) plan to make this postseason a long and memorable one.
Dean and his teammates enjoyed a first-round bye as the top seed and then at home CdM knocked off Hart of Newhall, 25-17, 25-20, 25-16, in the second round, but the playoffs in a way began last week. The Sea Kings needed a challenge and the Battle of the Bay provides that every year.
The Sea Kings played host to Newport Harbor in the regular-season finale. The day before, CdM capped its sixth straight undefeated Pacific Coast League title.
"I felt like the match really helped us to kind of [get out of a funk]," Dean said. "We weren't playing super well because our league competition overall isn't top notch. As a team, we really needed like a really good team to play to get ready for the playoffs."
What transpired in the Battle of the Bay reaffirmed to Coach Steve Conti what CdM is capable of doing. The Sea Kings redeemed themselves against a team that handed them half of their four losses.
Dean rose to the occasion for CdM, recording eight of his 19 kills in the final two sets to lead the Sea Kings to a thrilling five-set victory. In front of a packed gym, CdM prevailed, 25-22, 27-29, 25-23, 31-33, 15-11, allowing Dean to get the best of Newport Harbor in the Back Bay rivalry match for the second straight season.
As to which victory felt sweeter to Dean, both are equally sweet. The 6-foot-4 opposite, who is bound for Pepperdine University, helped send CdM's seniors off with a victory at Newport Harbor last year.
This year, Dean and seven teammates can say they beat the Sailors in the Battle of the Bay in their senior year. The match meant a lot to CdM's psyche.
"I kind of see the guys a little bit more confident in practice now because of that [win against Newport Harbor]," Conti said. "It's not like we had any reason to lose confidence. We only have four losses all year, but I think they're eager to get where they are.
"We're kind of a senior-heavy team, and hopefully because of that, they know that this is really a special moment in their senior year with the playoffs out in front of us and they're looking to go out and focus on one match at a time. But as far as the long-term goal, we kind of want to hopefully do something special this year."
Bringing a seventh boys' volleyball section championship banner to hang in the CdM gym is Dean's goal.
Next year, when there is AP testing in the gym, students can look up and admire the banner.
Born: Jan. 28, 1993
Hometown: Corona del Mar
Weight: 200 pounds
Sport: Boys' volleyball
Coach: Steve Conti
Favorite food: Turkey burger at True Food Kitchen
Favorite movie: "Chariots of Fire"
Favorite athletic moment: "Winning [Junior Olympics] with my [Balboa Bay Volleyball] club. We won that my 15s and 16s year."
Week in review: He recorded 19 kills with just one error, helping the host Sea Kings defeat Newport Harbor, 25-22, 27-29, 25-23, 31-33, 15-11, in the Battle of the Bay. He also contributed to CdM claiming its sixth straight undefeated Pacific Coast League title.