A 2-0 victory over Belleville on May 18 helped propel the Bloomfield High boys’ volleyball team into the Essex County Tournament semifinals.
But the win also marked an impressive milestone for Louis Stevens, Bloomfield’s head coach for the past 16 seasons. Stevens won his 300th game as the boys volleyball coach, and now has 469 overall wins at Bloomfield, since he’s also the girls volleyball coach.
Bloomfield, the defending county champions from 2019, will travel to Livingston on back-to-back days. They’ll take on the Lancers in a league match, on May 20, at 4 p.m., then return on May 21 for the county semifinals. The championship game will be on May 26, at the home of the higher seed. The other semifinal on May 21, also at Livingston, matches Newark East Side against Payne Tech.
Bloomfield improved to 8-6 on the season by defeating Belleville for the third time this season. Stevens’ overall record as the boys coach improved to 300-126.
“It means a great deal,” said Stevens of the milestone victory. “It’s a testimony to the tremendous kids we’ve had here over the years. We’re excited about making it back to the county semifinals, but it will be a tough road. Livingston is strong, and Newark East Side and Payne Tech are also solid teams. But we’re here, and I also feel if we play the way we’re capable, we have a good chance, too.”
Missing the entire 2020 season set the Bengals back a little this spring, but Stevens is seeing some cohesiveness, as the season progresses.
“Most of our guys don’t play club volleyball, so missing an entire season takes a toll,” said Stevens. “Some teams were back playing last September in club matches, and it makes a difference. But I’m encouraged with the way we’ve been playing. With the exception of two matches this year, we’ve been in every match and the improvement is there.”
Stevens’ name is in lofty company in the history of Bloomfield High coaches. The legendary Bill Foley (football, basketball and baseball) has the most wins at BHS, with 793. Bob Mayer (girls soccer and softball) is second, entering this softball season with 726 overall wins. Mayer is followed by Jim White (665 victories, boys soccer and girls basketball) and George Cella (510 wins, boys basketball and baseball). Stevens is fifth on the list, with 469 victories, and counting.
“It would be nice to get to 200 wins with the girls in a few seasons,” said Stevens. “Again, it’s about the great kids I’ve been fortunate enough to coach.”