Roncalli reached the Indiana Boys Volleyball Coaches Association (IBVCA) state championship match Saturday at Perry Meridian for the fourth consecutive time. They won in 2018 but were second in 2019 and 2021.
This time around, Roncalli added to its legacy Saturday by defeating Hamilton Southeastern for its second state championship 25-17, 25-20, 20-10.
“This was a team of destiny,” said coach John Kesterson. “These boys weren’t going to lose, because they refused to lose.”
Senior Brendan Louthain was named as tourney MVP and on the all-tourney team with junior Alex Barkley and Andrew Mayer.
The Royals advanced to the title match by wearing down Cathedral in three sets 25-21, 25-18, 25-15 earlier Saturday at Perry Meridian.
“We have the same goal every game and that’s to get out with a win and make a statement,” Louthain said. “Today we made a statement.”
The Royals finished with a 35-1 season. They only lost six sets all season and swept three foes in the state finals.
Friday, Roncalli and Perry Meridian put it on the line in their “double jeopardy” opening day match with, not only, bragging rights in Perry Township but to advance in the state finals.
The Royals swept their township rival 25-17, 25-22,25-19 to remain 3-0 for the season against the Falcons. Roncalli, led by a dominant front row, used their height and back-row quickness to advance.
Roncalli won each set in similar fashion – starting slow and slipping into a permanent lead midway.
“That’s been our trend all year; we’ve always started slow,” Louthain said Friday. “It’s better to turn it around early so we can finish with a sweep, but Perry’s a really good team and we always play them close.”
Midway in the first set Friday, the Royals broke from a 14-14 tie with a 6-0 run bolstered by Louthain’s two kills and Noah Witmer’s block. In the second set, the Royals moved from an 11-11 tie on two blocks but the Falcons pulled within one point (19-18) before a Royals five-point run. In the third set, Louthain’s three aces snapped a 4-4 tie. Later, PM’s Joseph Nung’s block tied it at 17-17. This time the Royals put together a 5-0 run with two blocks and two kills.
The Royals also moved their front row attack from the left side to the right side.
“We normally try to do a nice spread offense, but we were too focused on the left,” coach Kesterson said. “We do recover well; these boys play well with stress and being a little behind.”
After a surprise season last year, Perry Meridian reached the Elite 8 in front of a homecourt state finals crowd for the first time.
“We needed to not have their (Roncalli) big rallies in the middle where they scored more points,” PM coach Zach Ridener said. “Now I have a bunch of juniors that are hungrier than ever ... we will refocus and come back and try again.”
The two Southside teams also added to the talent level of Indiana boys’ volleyball. Louthain, Mayer, Witmer and Charles Schoettle of Roncalli; Simon Hmung and Seth Bolden of Perry Meridian; and Tyler Sobieralski of Franklin Central were named to the South All-Star team.
Each coach was optimistic about IHSAA’s advancement of boys volleyball to recognition as an “emerging sport.”
“We’ll get more schools, paid coaches and more boys in the gym,” Kesterson observed. “We (Royals) have a lot of multi-sport athletes so it’s a great sport to play in the spring if they’re not already playing lacrosse or baseball.”
Ridener stated, “Now we can start with our younger kids and they will be more involved. Our middle school (Perry Meridian) is more interested in starting a program now.”
Beginning with the 2022-2023 season, boys’ volleyball will receive IHSAA support.