CENTERVILLE — Even though the season came to an end one match earlier than they wanted it to on Sunday, the Mount Vernon High School boys volleyball program still had reason to celebrate.
The Yellow Jackets set the school record for wins (24-4) and won their first-ever game at the state tournament. At the heart of that success were two individuals who received the highest possible honors in the state.
Senior Carter Cassell was named the Ohio High School Boys Volleyball Coaches Association Division I Player of the Year, and Mount Vernon coach Alan Cassell was selected as the Division I Coach of the Year. Both were recognized prior to the state final between Cincinnati Moeller and Cincinnati Elder.
“This is a great honor,” said coach Cassell. “First of all, to get anybody from central Ohio to be considered for it is an accomplishment. To turn around and have Carter win it is great. He is excited about it, but he told his mom the other day at home that he would give it up in a heartbeat to win a state championship as a team. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but we are still proud of what he has accomplished for Mount Vernon.
“I was really surprised (with the Coach of the Year honor). I told my seniors, ‘I consider that a team award. I consider it an award for all their efforts.’ They helped me and I tried to help them as much as I could. It is really a team award.”
Mount Vernon senior Ben Bennett was named Honorable Mention All-Ohio.
For Carter Cassell, the award is culmination of all the work he has put into the game throughout his high school career.
“This is a big honor,” said Carter. “At the beginning of my sophomore year, I set as a goal for myself to achieve this level, and now that it has paid off, it is really rewarding. I couldn’t have gotten here without my coaches and teammates, so I have to say a big ‘thank you’ to all those guys.
“It was definitely a surprising feeling (to find out I’d won). I set the goal for myself and I realized if I worked hard enough, I was capable. When I read it for the first time, my reaction was ‘Wow.’”
Coach Cassell’s honor was particularly special due to the fact that it came along at the same time as Carter’s. They are the first father-son combination to win the honor in the same year.
“To tell the truth, I am more proud of my dad than I am myself,” said Carter. “He is a great coach. He is this team. He leads us; he sets up everything. He doesn’t take as much credit as he should because if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be where we are at.”
With the top two honorees in the state of Ohio coming from Mount Vernon, the spotlight is shining bright on central Ohio and the Yellow Jackets in particular.
“I think people are starting to realize there is a lot of talent all over the state,” said coach Cassell. “We are glad to get some recognition as a program. We are starting to get a lot of kids to play, showing more interest. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
“I think our team play has gotten a lot of recognition all around the state,” said Carter. “Now, moving forward, our name is definitely on the board. The honors let people know that Mount Vernon volleyball can play with the best of them. ... I’m so proud of our guys. We had a tremendous season; we fought hard.”