LAFAYETTE — Before the top seed in the Division II state volleyball playoffs encounters the heavy hitters within the bracket, St. Thomas More High School coach Jessica Burke wanted to see a clean effort from her squad in the regional round.
The Cougars (41-1) met that goal in a 25-10, 25-6, 25-5 victory Monday over Central Lafourche.
“We kept it pretty much error-free, which is what this was about,” Burke said. “It was about not playing down and playing up. I thought the girls did a good job of that. I feel like we are ready for the weekend.”
To get to that next step — a Thursday quarterfinal match against Academy of Our Lady — the Cougars were able to take control early against Central Lafourche.
The Cougars doubled up Central Lafourche through the first stages of the opening set. Avery Breaux’s kill made the score 16-8. Catherine Aillet increased the margin to 10 at 18-8 with a kill of her own. The Trojans snapped a string of nine straight Cougar points with a kill and then an ace by Tabitha Conrad, but that 22-10 margin was as close as the Trojans would get in the opening set. The Trojans were later called for a double hit to give the Cougars a set point. Breaux finished the set with an ace.
“I thought we did a good job of hitting our zones (on serves),” Burke said. “We placed the ball where it needed to be to kind of make it difficult on them.”
The Cougars collected the first four points of the second set before the Trojans were able to get on the board. Maddy Aucoin later increased the advantage to 13-3 when she smacked one of her six service aces. Central Lafourche scored its final point on a service error to make it 17-6 before the Cougars rattled off eight points to cement the second-set win. A kill by Morgan Vincent accounted for the final point.
St. Thomas More led 6-3 in the final set until another run soon pushed the advantage to 13-3 on a Meredyth Howard kill. The Trojans trailed 17-5 when STM closed out the match via a 6-0 run.
The starters for STM played a big chunk of the game to help the Cougars keep their rhythm in the win. “I feel like the starters have earned the right to be in there,” Burke said.
Aillet and Sarah Trotter each finished with six kills for the Cougars. Breaux registered 26 assists against Central Lafourche (19-18).
“We just wanted to play Cougar volleyball,” Breaux said. “We have one loss, and it drives us further to make sure it won’t happen again. We do a lot of drills in practice to prepare for whatever we get from our opponents.”