Published May 12, 2022
BY RILEY PALSHAW
Following a 3-0 victory over Pacific Collegiate School on May 4, Carmel High School’s boys’ volleyball continues their success-filled season into Central Coast Section playoffs, modifying some of their practices and fine-tuning their skills in order to prepare for a stiff level of competition.
Finishing with a 10-1 league record in the Gabilan Division of the Pacific Coast Athletic League and a 15-2 overall record, the boys have served up quite a season.
Although the team has been performing consistently all season, head coach Israel Ricardez attributes his players’ recent success to the high level of competition the team was exposed to in the Bellarmine Invitational on April 22-23, a tournament in San Jose where the boys got the opportunity to play the number two team in the nation. He notes that even with the team finishing 2-4 in the tournament it was still the best volleyball they’ve played yet, and it showed in their return to league games.
“We’re at a different level than we’ve normally been against our league opponents,” said varsity coach Israel Ricardez after a 3-0 win over Hollister, the team’s first game following the tournament. “We have a tendency to play down to our opponents, and I think this was the first time we showed to ourselves that we don’t have to do that.”
While the team is overall very proud of their achievements in league, they understand that there is always room for improvement as a squad and that if they wish for success in CCS they will need to focus their practices on polishing their game and bringing the team closer together.
“Our wins so far have been based purely on the fact that we have talent,” senior Amir Brown says. “But we’re still working on team chemistry and building a team atmosphere so that everyone gets involved and everyone has a role.”
This sentiment is echoed throughout the team, as the athletes recognize the importance of working together as one cohesive unit in a competitive environment.
“If we are a stronger bonded team than our opponents we can expect more success,” says senior Joe Barnett, co-captain and an outside hitter for the team. “It’s a mental game.”
Of course, there are technical elements of the game the squad wants to work on. Making good passes, defense off the block and overall court awareness are the primary focus of their practices as they prepare for playoffs.
“Our team focus at the moment is to develop a stronger back row,” sophomore setter Sebastian Daste explains. “Once we do that I feel we will be well suited. We have strong hitters and front-row blockers who can hold their own, and I feel that that will take us far into CCS.”
As second in the Gabilan Division, behind Christopher High School (10-1), the squad has a fair shot at hosting the first round of the CCS playoffs, a home advantage the team wants and needs. Depending on how high they seed in their division, the boys could continue to host so long as the fire in their drive to win remains ignited.
“All year, we’ve had the same goal that we want to win a league championship,” Ricardez says. “The only way to do that is to continue to push and get better in practices, and so far so good.”
As of publication, the CHS boys’ volleyball team is slated to play their first CCS game at home May 10 at 7 p.m., working towards the CCS playoff finals on Saturday, May 14.