Barlow sweeps New Canaan, entire 2022 season en route to repeat as Class M boys volleyball champions

SOUTHBURY — When Kevin Marino played volleyball at Joel Barlow, the Falcons won four games.

A year ago, Joel Barlow won its first state boys’ volleyball championship with Marino as the head coach.

Now, the Falcons have gone back-to-back.

Barlow completed a perfect season with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-20) victory over New Canaan in the CIAC Class M volleyball championship game Thursday night at Pomperaug High School.

Barlow, which has now won 46 straight games, didn’t drop a single set all season in fashioning a 25-0 record. The last time the Falcons lost a set was to Newington in the Class M final a year ago and it was the only set they lost all season.

“It’s crazy numbers, but it’s due to these guys working hard,” Marino said. “They were in the gym matching my process of being crazy and analytical and wanting to work all the time. It’s a testament how good they are.”

According to Marino, the difference Thursday night was Barlow setter Leo Houser.

“He’s so intelligent and sets up our hitters to be successful,” Marino said. “We didn’t pass the ball very well tonight, but he did a great job.”

The first set was tight early, but Barlow begin to pull away halfway through, grabbing a 20-14 edge.

New Canaan closed to 24-21, but Will Villhauer’s kill from the left side finished off the game for a 1-0 Barlow lead.

New Canaan led early in the second game, taking a 14-12 edge, but Barlow responded with an 8-4 spurt that gave the Falcons a 20-16 lead.

The Rams got as close as 23-21, but Houser finished off the second game for Barlow with a two-handed fingertip roll that fell in the middle of the New Canaan defense to make it 2-0.

“We have our special calls and my coach (Marino) will give me a signal,” Houser said. “He’ll tell me whenever you got it, go with it.”

Barlow raced out to a big lead in the third set before New Canaan closed it to 24-20. However, Ryan Schmid’s kill from the right side ended the game.

“We just kept calm and didn’t let them go on too many runs,” Schmid said. “We just focused on getting the next point.”

New Canaan had trouble all night with the Falcons’ height advantage.

“They have a huge front line with their blocks and it’s hard to get it past them and their setter, Leo, covers everything,” New Canaan coach Amy Warren said. “It’s difficult to find holes and cracks in their system.”

The Rams finished 15-7 on the season following its first appearance in the state finals.

“This program has been getting better every single year,” Warren said. “Last year, we made it to the FCIAC finals and this year we made it to the state finals,” Warren said.