IRHS men’s volleyball wins DIAA crown | News

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Hollywood couldn’t have scripted the moment better.

A reverse serve from Indian River High School senior Carson Barnes flew over the net and changed direction slightly.

The serve, powered by the lanky 6-foot-4 Barnes, handcuffed a student athlete from the Delaware Military Academy, who could only redirect the missile-like delivery out of bounds.

The point provided a fitting exclamation point that won the fourth set, 25-14, and allowed the Indians to dramatically overthrow the defending state champion Seahawks, 3-1, last Thursday, May 19. , during the 2022 DIAA Men’s Volleyball Championship showdown. .

The ace serve sparked an emotional celebration as players, coaches and spectators converged on the ground like a swarm of jubilant bees.

The championship is IR’s second in five years of existence and four years of competition, with the 2020 season having been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Beating Delaware Military Academy in the Finals after knocking us out last year in the Semi-Finals was a great feeling,” said Barnes, who in 2022 won his second consecutive Delaware Player of the Year award. Volleyball Coaches Association. “We really fought for it, and the whole team got through it.”

Carson Barnes’ father and team head coach Jim Barnes admitted that this year’s team “was built to win a state championship. It was our goal. We were either going to win or have fun trying,” Coach Barnes said. “So the regular season was about getting better as a team for the playoffs and then winning the championship.”

Things didn’t look particularly promising at the start of the Championship showdown. For the third game in a row against DMA, the Indians (15-3) fell behind, losing the first set, 25-20.

Between the first and second sets, Coach Barnes reminded his team that they might want to avoid playing with a 2-0 deficit. Trailing two sets to nil, the Indians had continued to rally before losing 3-2 to DMA in the state semi-finals last spring (May 18, 2021) and in the 2022 regular season on March 30.

The Verts et Or responded to the recall by winning the second set, 25-23, to tie the match at one set each.

In the third set, IR took a 24-17 lead before nearly losing their way.

“We couldn’t pass the ball to get attacking play,” Coach Barnes said. “But we eventually recovered and won,” he noted of the 26-24 triumph. “It would have been bad if we had lost that one. At that time, our boys played well in the fourth and final set and won,” with the score at 25-14.

“We won the last three sets by serving the ball much better” and passing the ball more accurately “than we did in the first set,” added coach Barnes. “We call it ‘better the ball'”, which he said is another way of saying ‘improving the position of the ball for the next player so they are able to make a better’ attempt fatal blow”.

Statistically, Carson Barnes contributed 27 kills and 16 digs against a talented DMA team. Senior setting expert Gustavo Rivera had 26 assists and 11 digs. Seniors Finn Bellistri and Jonathan Atkins each contributed five rejections to the block party.

Catching fire before the playoffs

Winning a state championship didn’t seem very likely on May 4, after the Indians lost their third game – something they had never done in their previous three competitive seasons.

A 3-0 defeat at the Salesianum on May 4 dropped IR’s record to an unspectacular 7-3. Previously, they had lost to DMA at home and Wilmington Charter on the road.

Luckily for the Indians, they caught fire just before the playoffs to win their final five games and the school’s second men’s volleyball title.

The end-of-season rally was fueled by several key moves undertaken by coach Barnes and his assistant, Jay Clark. The Indians moved Bellistri from the setter to an opposite striking position after realizing Rivera’s improvement and mastery of setting technique.

Atkins returned from a midseason injury at his center hitting position, while junior Caleb Galbreath emerged as a dominant shot blocker and killshot performer.

Senior Libero Jimmy Osman continued to improve and the Indians benefited from improved play by senior Blake Morgan, juniors Connor Bird and Jordy Estrada and second Grason Howard.

“Once the tournament started, the players on our team were really focused on finding a way to win,” Clark said. “It doesn’t matter who made the play as long as one of them made it.”

“We didn’t have such a dominant or experienced squad, and we had to work hard to improve new players and put them in the right places to give us the best chance of winning,” coach Barnes said. “Then we had to get playoff wins in games where we lost a set or [sets] which we won by just two points against Cape Henlopen,” in a 33-31 win.

The season-ending five-game march to the title began with a 3-0 victory in the regular-season finale at Smyrna on May 6. Once they reached the playoffs, the Green & Gold seemed to pick up another gear.

They made short work of visiting Mount Pleasant, 3-0, in the first round of the playoffs on May 11.

Their quarter-final bout at Cape Henlopen the next night was a hotly contested affair, a classic in the making.

“Our players’ can-do attitude helped our team win over Cape – the longest match I’ve been in in over 50 years of playing and training competitive volleyball,” Clark said. “Our 33-31 victory in the fourth set,” he said of Indian River’s 3-1 triumph at Cape Henlopen, “convinced our athletes that we were the number one team in Delaware. To illustrate how good Cape was, they scored 101 points in four sets and still lost to our team.

In the state semifinal, Indian River reached the program’s second title game in its final three years of competition by entering the hallowed hall of Salesianum High School and upsetting the Sallies 17-0, 3 -1, Tuesday, May 17.

For the four-game playoff, Carson Barnes finished with 105 kills, 12 blocks and 55 digs. Galbreath had 16 blocks, while Adkins added 12. Rivera had 139 assists, while Osman added 44 dogs.

“We were on a mission to win it in 2019, and we did it in a dominant way,” coach Barnes said of his Indians team winning all 13 games. “That first IR state championship team had more experienced players and was more dominant. We only lost two sets all season (one to Wilmington Charter and one to Salesianum) and then beat the Sallies in three straight sets in the league match.

Indian River High School’s five-year-old boys’ volleyball team reached the state semifinals in its inaugural 2018 season and again in 2021.

“Our goal this year wasn’t easy, but it was achievable,” the state championship coach said. “We had a plan and we worked it out to perfection. It wasn’t easy to beat Cape à Cape, beat the Sallies at the Salesianum, then DMA for the championship,” but that was how they had to achieve their goal. “And, after a rocky start – mission accomplished!”

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