The Tao of volleyball coach John Mayer

Santa Monica Corsairs men's head volleyball coach John Mayer is the picture of a calm Friday night as the scene inside of Corsair Pavilion around him is not.

The blue and white are behind two sets to one heading into the fourth set against their burgeoning rival the El Camino Real Warriors. In the huddle, Mayer speaks to his players, motioning his commands like a general, his faithful soldiers listening.

The Corsairs come out for the fourth set and pull ahead.

The raucous crowd cheers on the Corsairs as they take the lead, his players react as if they had just won championship point and yet on the bench Mayer is still exudes serenity.

This is the serenity of a man who lead the Corsairs to their first appearance in the California Community College Athletic Association state finals since 1981 last season and has the blue and white off to a 7-1 start this year.

During practice the day before, a white board stands in Corsair Pavilion. On it is written, "Being a professional is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don't feel like doing them." - Dr. J.

Mayer does this before every practice, in an attempt to spark a conversation between his men.

"One thing our team did was meditation before games and after some practices," said Stanley Keats, a former player for coach Mayer who is now playing professionally in Greece. "Most coaches only work on physical aspects of the game but mental aspects are just as important."

A coaches demeanor is always important towards how his players will act, and it seems that what Mayer gives to his players, they hand right back to him, respect and honesty.

Mayer himself is a product of the community college system. He spent two years at Pierce College and won state championships both years he was a Brahma. He then proceeded to transfer to Pepperdine University and won the National Collegiate Athletic Association championship in 2005.

Practice begins and the team discusses the game before, a 3-2 win over the Santa Barbra City College Vaqueros. They discuss how the Vaqueros nearly came from behind in the game for 10 minuets. Then Mayer moves on to the next game, and what their preparations ahead of them.

For Mayer practice is the rehearsal for the next championship match.

"Practice is where you put your time and work in, and you can't go into a match trying to fix things, you have to be prepared and ready to go," said sophomore outside hitter Taylor Tattersall.

Mayer believes practice is a guided discovery, where the group figures out what they want to get better at.

"It doesn't matter how much I know, it matters how much they know. The more they can say it, the more they will understand it and do it," Mayer said.

The team is coming off a successful season that marked a turnaround for the men's volleyball program.

After a 4-13 2013 season, the Corsairs fought their way to the state finals only to fall to the Orange Coast College Pirates.

"We wanted to win it, we were bummed to lose, but it was a good experience", describes coach Mayer discontentedly. "The accomplishment was just the daily stuff you go through".

One key loss to the team however, is Keats Stanley, who is now playing professionally in Greece, according to Coach Mayer. Keats was among the stat leaders, and one of the go to guys.

"[Mayer] pushed us to work hard in practice everyday and we had fun doing it. He somehow remains calm when big games get crazy which helps the players on the court stay calm and confident as well," said Keats. Keats was among the leaders of the team, and he described it as being natural, which helps him now that he is playing professional.

Balance in a team is key for success, and that is something that Mayer says they have this year. "We don't just have one guy, last year it was really obvious with Keats Stanley and Taylor Tattersall, but now any night it can be somebody else, making us more balanced," Mayer said.

Tattersall is a returning sophomore, who along with Keats was one of the guys who carried the team. "Its a great return for us... and you'll probably see him getting the most attempts this year," says Mayer.

Taylor recounts last year as a great season, in which the team had a tribal connection, on and off the court. He recalls his best advice by coach Mayer, "Simple vs complex."

Tattersall explains that Mayer is a very quiet person, but one who can get his point across in a very direct way.

"During games he is calm and composed, he is not one of the guys to yell at you or screams and makes you run a lot. He'll approach the situation in a nice calm manner," Tattersall said.

As the game point in the fifth set is shown on the scoreboard in favor of the Corsairs, the blue and white bench rises, and the ball is set.

Tattersall is set up at the net and goes for the kill. It falls to the floor

The Corsair bench and their fans erupt.

Coach Mayer raises a simple fist in the air, enjoying his team's victory.