If you look up the word “dynasty” in the dictionary you might see Pope John Paul II used as an example.
The top-seeded Jaguars solidified their stranglehold on Division IV volleyball with a 3-0 win over the second-seeded Notre Dame (25-15, 25-17, 25-22) to win another title at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center.
But state titles are not new to either team.
The Pioneers dominated the scene from 2010-12, while the Jaguars now have four straight titles (2014-17).
On Saturday, the Jaguars were too strong for Notre Dame.
PJP never trailed in the first set building a 20-10 lead as Camille Dedeaux and Ansley Tullis blasted away from the outside.
The Pioneers only led once in the second set, 2-1, before the Jaguars went on a five-point run at the midway point to make it 12-8. Notre Dame hung tough, closing within three points at 16-13 before PJP put it away on a Tyler Sanderson kill to go up 2-0.
In some matches, PJP had trouble winning the third set. And this time was no exception as the Pioneers built a 7-3 lead. But thanks to some nice assists by Jaguars setter Kendall Battistella, PJP took an 8-7 lead, an advantage they would not relinquish.
The Pioneers battled back, cutting the PJP lead to 22-20 but faded in the stretch after a big kill by Rachel Hartmann and a match-ending kill by Ansley Tullis.
When the match ended, the usually composed Jaguars coach Danny Tullis threw himself onto the pile in the wild celebration that ensued.
“It’s been a long ride with this group of seniors that are graduating this year,” Tullis said. “The girls have had an incredible run winning four straight state championships. That is something that is very special when you consider that every coach would just like one title.”
When asked what makes his team different from the rest, he was quick to answer.
“The key to our success has always been that our girls want to be teammates first and then become the best that they can be,” Tullis said. “Also, another key to our success is the parents who have been incredibly involved and have worked so hard behind the scenes, working to build our program into what it is today.”
Senior Camille Dedeaux, who recently signed with St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, was selected the MVP.
“In my four years here, we had never lost at home until our loss to Hannan at the end of the season,” Dedeaux said. “I think because of that loss we worked harder to prepare for state, and it paid off.”
This group of seniors has never lost a home game and never lost to a district rival until the Hannan game. So, their 3-1 win against the Hawks in the semifinals was especially satisfying.
Senior leader Tyler Sanderson summed up her thoughts on the Jaguars success story.
“Since we aren’t the biggest team out there we focus on ball control and try to keep the ball in the court,” Sanderson said. “We have always wanted to be the team that works the hardest.”
Tullis and Sanderson led the Jaguars with 11 and 10 kills, while Neyland and Hartmann combined for nine blocks.