St. Thomas More earned their three-peat Saturday afternoon the hard way.
After defeating second-seeded St. Scholastica in the semifinals, STM upended top-seeded Assumption 25-13, 25-22 and 25-14 to capture the Division II title at LHSAA state volleyball tournament at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center.
Besides being the third consecutive championship for STM (35-8), this is the fourth in five years.
Tied 6-6 in the opening game, the Cougars used a 6-1 run to take a 12-7 lead en route to the opening game victory.
STM took control of the match late in Game 2. At 22-22, the Cougars scored the final three points to go up 2-0 in games.
“Our team plays very disciplined volleyball,” Cougars coach Jessica Burke said. “Especially defensively, we play a very focused type of game.”
STM’s Sarah Trotter, the Division II Most Outstanding Player, had eight kills and 13 digs. Catherine Aillet led STM with 10 kills, and Maddy Aucoin had seven.
Molly Jacobsen paced the Cougars with 21 assists.
“It wasn’t just me out there tonight,” Trotter said. “Everyone out on the court contributed in some way to every kill and every point we scored tonight. You have to have the dig, pass and set-up. That takes teammates.”
Burke said her team’s focus was the biggest reason for the victory.
“Coming in as a No. 3 seed I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” Burke said. “While some other people may have doubted our chances, I think our team never had any doubt that we were going to be playing for the state championship again. We are a young team, and we had a lot of underclassman really step up and help us accomplish what we wanted to do before the season started.
“Winning three in a row is special. Sometimes I catch myself taking this for granted. I expect my team to be here every year. For the school it is huge. Winning three consecutive state crowns means you have had a lot of girls over a long period of time work and play very hard. We had the raw end of the deal seeding wise, but to win the title you have to beat everybody. We did that.”
Assumption (38-7) was led by Hannah Brister who had eight kills and Hannah Diggs added four kills. Caroline Gonzales had 12 digs.
Proud of her team’s effort, longtime Assumption coach Sandy Fussell said her squad just ran into a better team Saturday.
“You have to give a tremendous amount of credit to St. Thomas More,” she said. “They are extremely successful. We knew we had an uphill battle heading into this game. And I thought for the most part, we just could never get our offense going and where we wanted it to be.
“(The Cougars) just do everything well, and they took away from us what we do well.”