Darby Men’s Volleyball looks to make another state tournament run
In Hilliard, Ohio, there are pretty much two things you can expect to happen in the spring. First, once everyone thinks spring has finally arrived, there will be a random snow storm. And second, the Darby Men’s Volleyball Program will have a great season. As arguably the most successful athletic program in the history of the school, this team is one to keep your eye on over the next few months.
Coach Evan Bell is the head of the program and will be leading it for the second season in a row, however, he has been coaching for four years in total. Joining him on the staff is JV Coach Jarrod Kelso, a Darby alumni who helped earn the program a state title in 2013 as a player, Freshmen Coach Joe Ross who coached the 2013 team to their championship victory, and the program’s volunteer assistant coach, Bell’s brother Eric Bell.
Over the past 19 seasons, the Panthers have won 18 OCC titles, earning their tenth straight OCC in the 2018 season. The program also has 15 Regional Titles under their belt as well, having won it every year since 2003, except for 2004. The boys also have at least ten final four appearances, and have Division One State Runners-Up for the past two
seasons, as well as in 2012. Not to mention, in 2013 and 2015, Darby finally managed to put it all together when they won the state championship.
With the impressive history backing this program, every year the team has high expectations and goals that they strive to reach.
“We have set several goals within our program, and we’re going to grind, day in and day out in order to achieve those goals,” Bell shared. He mentioned that one of the goals is “to play our best ball in the biggest, most adverse moment.”
The team has many returning players on their roster who can help lead the team. Dominic Melchiorre, Nick Hermosilla, Nick Ferko, and Drew Geise makeup this year’s senior class. Other returning letter winners include juniors, Adam Ansel, Michael Beard, Griffin Hart, Jared Kish, Payton Reed, and Noah Platfoot. Platfoot is their starting setter who has verbally committed to continue playing volleyball at The Ohio State University, following his graduation in 2020.
Ansel feels that everyone on the team is working hard to meet their goals.
“We need to build the chemistry to really get going for the season,” explained Ansel.
Bell is also excited for the group and is most looking forward to bonding with everyone like a family.
“We have a great group of kids this season. This group really cares about each other and has bought in to the philosophy to play for the brother standing next to them,” Bell expressed.
Although it’s still March, the boys have competed in several scrimmages in order to prepare for the regular season. Most recently, they played in a Tri-Meet on Tuesday, March 19th at Darby. The other two teams that attended were Beavercreek High School and St. Charles Preparatory School, the reigning Division 2 Men’s Volleyball State Champions.
For the 2019 season the program has the mantra of #R2R, or The Road to the Ring. They are referring to the ring that state champions receive.
This road started the second their season ended when they lost in the state finals last year. Since then, the players and coaches have put in countless hours at conditioning, lifting, open gyms, and club ball during the off season, not to mention all of the work they’ve put in since tryouts at the beginning of March.
On Wednesday, March 27, the boys took on the Pacers from Delaware’s Rutherford B. Hayes High School. The gym was filled with excitement after Darby swept their opponent in three straight sets, starting their season and conference record out at 1-0.
In the days following their victory, the varsity team headed to Chicago to compete in the Tiger Classic. On Friday, March 19, they went 2-0, which earned them a spot in the Gold Bracket. After their games on Saturday, the Panthers came in fourth place overall, with a 3-2 record for the whole tournament.
The Darby Men’s Volleyball Program has already started their season off strong and are looking to keep this momentum going for the coming months.
Be sure to come see the Panthers play in their next home game on Thursday, April 4, at around 6:30pm.