Fishers Boasts Two of Indiana’s Premier High School Boys Volleyball Programs
Writer / Ryan Kennedy
Men’s volleyball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States at the youth, high school and collegiate levels.
Fishers High School Boys Volleyball head coach Carlos Capo grew up playing volleyball in Puerto Rico, where the game has long been popular.
“It’s kind of like basketball in Indiana,” he says. “If you’re an athlete, you play sports. You usually play a little bit of volleyball in Puerto Rico.”
Capo says he’s always been interested in coaching, but when his kids were younger they practiced immediately after school and his job prevented him from helping out as much as he wanted to. When Capo and his family moved to Indiana in 2007, his kids enrolled in St. Pious, which practiced later in the day, allowing Capo to help out.
Fishers High School initially organized a volleyball program in 1994, but the program quickly dissolved. With his son set to attend the school, but with no team to play for, Capo and two others took in upon themselves to restart the program in 2015.
Fishers High School won the two most recent Boys Volleyball State Championships — the first in 2019 and the second in 2021. The 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the time of press, FHS Boys Volleyball sat at a record of 16-8 on the season. The Tigers face a fresh challenge in their quest to win another state championship, Capo’s team is only returning one player from last year’s team, Zach Lewis, who is currently out with an injury.
Capo says the season is playing out the way he expected it would.
“I expected that the team would be more of a second-half team for the season just because of all the new starting players that I have,” he says. “I need the team to really kind of find their groove and play more as a team, but you can tell they’re still getting used to each other. A lot of these kids have not played together before, so they just need more reps together.”
Hamilton Southeastern High School Boys Volleyball assistant coach Wes Marchione also grew up around volleyball. He’s the son of a girls volleyball coach. His high school in Ohio didn’t offer men’s volleyball, so he played for club teams. Eventually, a group of four fathers got together to start a program at the high school, Marchione joined the team and went on to win two state championships his junior and senior year.
Marchione attended Ball State University. Upon learning their volleyball team didn’t take walk-ons, he continued playing for club teams. It’s also where he started coaching a girls team for 17 and 18-year-olds.
Marchione continued to play and coach volleyball. He formed a team with players who had played at IU and Purdue, they traveled the country and played nationals. During this time, Marchione met current HSE Boys Volleyball Head Coach Jon Harmon. Years later, when Marchione moved to Fishers with his family, he got into contact with Harmon.
“I knew Coach Harmon was still trying to build the program at HSE,” Marchione says. “So, I just reached out to him and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got an eighth-grade son and he’s playing. I’d like to help out and try to build the program with you. And if you have an opening, I’d be willing to step in and help out.’”
That was four years ago. Harmon announced that this will be his final year coaching the team. Marchione will take over the role of head coach next season.
At press time, the Royals are 20-3 overall. Marchione says last year’s team was young and raw but with only a handful of seniors graduated, this year’s team features veterans with experience playing together and more room to grow. Marchione believes his team can make a deep run in this year’s tournament.
“We feel that ceiling is still very high for us,” he says. “So I think this is going to be one of our best seasons ever.”
Men’s volleyball is growing at the collegiate level as well, which is one of the facts Marchione uses to pitch volleyball to potential student-athletes who grew up playing more traditional sports. He says volleyball is another potential avenue for students who hope to play sports in college.
“There’s a lot that volleyball could do for you, not only personally, but also athletically, if you’d like to pursue that in college as well,” he says.
Despite the growth of the sport and the increase of interest at all levels, Boys Volleyball is still not an IHSAA sanctioned sport. That means that boys volleyball teams don’t receive the same financial support as sanctioned sports like basketball, football and girls volleyball. Both Capo and Marchione say they’ve received support from their respective athletic directors, but they acknowledge men’s volleyball’s status as a club sport presents challenges.
Not all schools support their programs equally and that can make it difficult to field new teams. Practice time in the gym, time in the weight room, and transportation to matches all cost money and can be difficult for teams to secure.
That may soon change. In February, a proposal was submitted for men’s volleyball to join the IHSAA’s new emerging sports division. The vote takes place on May 2. Capo hopes the vote passes.
“I believe that’s what is going to make it really exponentially grow,” he says.