LAFAYETTE -- In its brief history, the Bentley School boys volleyball team has never made an appearance in the North Coast Section playoffs or seriously challenge for the Bay Counties League-East title. The league has been dominated in recent years by Head-Royce and College Prep.
Things changed in 2013.
Bentley finished second in the BCL-East regular season standings after a 20-25, 26-24, 25-20, 19-25, 16-14 loss to College Prep on April 23.
With the victory, College Prep receives the No. 1 seed for next week's league playoffs. Bentley is No. 2, with the winner of the league tournament earning an automatic berth to the NCS playoffs.
Regardless of the tournament's outcome, Bentley, with a 19-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark in the BCL-East, should receive a berth to the section playoffs.
The Phoenix entered the season with the goal of winning the league title, and had beaten College Prep on March 26.
"We have achieved solid wins against every team," Bentley coach Jeff Mayfield said earlier this month. "(We) are fortunate to have strong, dedicated players, all of which contribute positively and support the team."
Bentley is led by Eric Sprague, one of the top players in the East Bay. The 6-foot-8 senior has signed to play at UCLA next fall.
"He is a key factor to our offensive game in all directions," Mayfield said. "He normally plays middle blocker, but has been an invaluable outside hitter."
The size doesn't stop with Sprague as 6-5 sophomore Jack Cole is dominating in the middle and can play back row defense. Freshmen David Lehman and Christos Dereschuk are a big part of the team as well.
The player that brings it all together is junior setter Ru Smillie, who, as Mayfield said, "lights the fire and brings cohesion to the team."
Mayfield, who is in his second year as Bentley's coach, is optimistic about the program's future considering this year's team has just four seniors.
He also knows that there is a lot of work left to be done this season.
"Based on our showings at earlier tournaments, we have some idea of where we stand going into NCS," Mayfield said. "However, we see ourselves advancing match-by-match."