Comeaux volleyball coach Kristen Fabacher wanted to change the culture of the school’s volleyball program, and in just two years, she’s already made big strides.
After leading Comeaux to its first trip to the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner in more than a decade last season in her first year at the helm, she proved it was no fluke Monday night when the No. 10 Spartans (24-16) defeated seventh-seeded Dutchtown on the road to earn a second consecutive trip to the Division I quarterfinals.
Comeaux will match up with Mandeville in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
A former player at St. Thomas More, Fabacher said she ultimately wants to build a private school-like atmosphere and culture to Comeaux’s volleyball program so it might be mentioned with the same respect as programs like her alma mater.
“I’ve been told that I have a private-school mentality,” Fabacher said. “My goal and purpose of being here to try to run a public school program like a private school program, so they can say that all they want because that’s what I am trying to do.”
Private schools have traditionally ruled the Louisiana high school volleyball landscape. Mount Carmel and St. Joseph’s Academy have won 11 of the past 13 Division I state championships.
And this trend spreads beyond just Division I. A public school from any division hasn’t played in the finals of the state tournament since 2012, when Fontainebleau won the Division I title, and St. Martinville finished runner-up to St. Thomas More for the the Division II championship.
“I’m trying to change the mentality, and they way people think about public schools. We have 2,000 kids at this school. There’s no way we can’t find six volleyball players. ... I think any public school can be as good as a private school as long as they have a coach that cares about the program.”
In an attempt to build Comeaux’s reputation and boost the experience level of her players, Fabacher put together a difficult schedule.
Of the Trojans’ 16 losses this season, 15 came against teams who punched tickets to the Pontchartrain Center this weekend, something that Fabacher said has helped prepare her team for the tough competition and the pressure.
And while a 24-16 record may not seem like the most impressive record, Fabacher said losses are a small price to pay for the experience they give her team, especially considering every team in Division I makes the playoffs.
“That’s why I scheduled a lot of those hard New Orleans teams,” Fabacher said. “A lot of people thought I was crazy, but the only way we’re going to get better is by playing those tough teams.”
Fabacher and the Trojans will look to use everything they gained against those tough opponents Thursday night when it takes on No. 2 Mandeville (34-6) for a spot in the semifinals and a possible shot at No. 3 and perennial Division I powerhouse St. Joseph’s on Friday afternoon.