It seems to be a trend at Indian River High School this year: up-and-coming programs proving they’re on the up-and-up with their most successful starts in recent years.
No exception to that trend has been the Indian River volleyball team, which got over the .500 hump and off to a 3-2 start with a win over Worcester Preparatory School in three sets on Friday, Sept. 23.
“It is nice to be 3-2. Yesterday was a great win at Milford. That was a hard-earned victory, and I was happy that we won that game. I was happy that we won this game, too,” said IR head volleyball coach Jim Barnes of the start and 3-2 division win over Milford on Thursday, Sept. 22.
After the tight matchup at Milford to get to 2-2, the Indians came back out the next day to roll the Mallards by scores of 25-9, 25-11 and 25-17.
The game held some added significance for senior Shelby Cannatelli, who transferred to Indian River for her sophomore season after helping start Prep’s program as a freshman in 2013.
More important than that, however, was the support shown by the new Indian River “Tribe” student section, which Cannatelli said not only made their presence known but made a real impact on the game.
“It means the world to us,” said Cannatelli. “It gets us pumped up. I know I get so excited to have them there cheering for us. It makes our team chemistry just so much better.”
“I love the student section. I encourage more of them to come out,” added Barnes. “It’s so great to see the excitement. The spirit is awesome, to watch them all get into it. It helps the team.”
Also showing up to make an impact was the Selbyville Middle School volleyball team.
“It feels really good to have players that look up to you and think, ‘That’s going to be me someday,’” Cannatelli said, noting that among the squad was her younger sister. “I think it’s cool to be able to be a leader in that sense.”
Cannatelli racked up two kills, two aces and a dig in the matchup, while junior setter Mckenzie Johnson led the team in aces on the day, with six, also adding five assists, two kills, a dig and a block.
Senior middle hitter Sami Mumford also finished with five assists, to go along with five aces and three kills; junior outside hitter Carly Collins racked up four aces and an assist; and senior middle hitter Julia “J-Bomb” Bomhardt notched four kills, an ace and a dig.
While the girls would drop back to 3-3 with a 3-0 loss to Henlopen North Smyrna on Tuesday, Sept. 27, they’re already well on their way to surpassing their total of five wins in 2015 and have already matched their three-win total from 2014, with plenty of volleyball still left to play.
“It would have been nice to beat Delmar. It would have been nice to beat Cape. We had our sights high, and we were hoping we could upset them. We’ve improved so much, but we can still get better,” said Barnes of earlier matches this season and his team’s progress.
“I’m very fortunate to have Coach [Jay] Clark and the coaching staff that we have. Without the coaches that I have, we would not be the same team.”
“We have a top 10 goal list — a winning record is No. 4. Serving, passing and hitting are the top three,” added Cannatelli. “This season is going to be so exciting. It’s just starting.”
At 3-3 on the season and 2-1 in the Henlopen South, Barnes and his squad this week were looking to get back on the winning track with in a division matchup at Seaford on Thursday, Sept. 29, (after Coastal Point press time).