Cape beats Sallies in state’s 1st boys volleyball championship

Nick HallidayHeadlines, Sports

DIAA Boys Volleyball State Champions Cape Henlopen, photo by Mike Lang

SMYRNA — When Cape Henlopen’s boys volleyball team traveled to Wilmington in April to play Salesianum, the Vikings stayed close for two sets before the Sals pulled away in the third for a sweep. Those first two sets remained in the mind of Cape Henlopen coach Tyler Coupe when game-planning for the rematch, which took place May 23 at Smyrna High School for the first DIAA championship in the sport.

The Vikings worked the plan to perfection, finding open spaces while on the attack and clogging the Sals’ hitting lanes on defense in a 3-0 sweep to earn the championship trophy. The victory set off a wild celebration between the team and a sizeable contingent of Cape students who made the trip to Kent County.

“We knew we could hang with them. We knew we had a chance to beat them. We just had to execute on a much more consistent basis. We did that tonight,” Coupe said.

The set scores were 25-23, 25-17 and 25-19.

The Vikings started strong, building an 11-4 lead in the first set before the Sals fought back to make it 19-18. Charlie Casas added a point for the Vikings with a blast, but the Sals eventually tied the score at 20. A few points later, Salesianum was up, 23-21, but two errors knotted it again. William Cerf scored on a block to send Cape to set point, and an error ended it.

The teams were tied in the second, 9-9, before the Vikings scored nine of the next 11 to open up an 18-11 lead. Odin Potemski was particularly effective during that run, scoring three of the points on two bombs and another attack that hit a Sallies player before finding the floor. Brady Lamb also had a big set and night for Cape, and he ended the second with a smash.

Cape had a small lead midway through the third before the Sals bounced back to tie, with Reid Maas and Christian Sullivan contributing with kills. But Dylan Henry of the Vikings sent a kill off the end line to give his team a lead it would not relinquish. Lamb and Henry each scored in the home stretch, with Lamb sending it to match point on a tip. After one save by the Sals, a service error ended the match.

Coupe knew the Sals would put up a battle.

“I’ve said earlier, they are the best talented team in the state,” he said. “Across the board, all six positions, they have the most talent. We all knew they weren’t going to give up on this. They weren’t going to give us any free points. We knew we had to earn it.”

He credited his team’s culture. The players, he explained, know when to push each other and when to lift each other up.

“I think tonight, our culture came through.”

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