LAFAYETTE — Before late September, Teurlings volleyball coach Terry Hebert said he didn’t even have a set lineup, much less think his team had an opportunity to repeat as state champions this season.
“I knew we were talented,” Hebert said. “I can’t really say I thought we could repeat. I am still nervous to even say that word. When we got the No. 1 ranking, that was a lightbulb moment that told me maybe we have what it takes.”
Hebert’s 2014 team is minus three seniors from last year’s squad and returned only four starters. He said he played a lot of sophomores, and that lack of experience took a while to gel together with the senior leadership.
“As a sophomore, when you step on the varsity court, that is a big deal,” he said. “Not only that, but every one of them was in the stands last year and they experienced that. Not only was it a varsity team they were stepping into, but it was a defending state champion.
“That added to their anxiety, but my current seniors did a great job of reminding them that this is a whole different year. The rings are in the jewelry box and the trophy is in the case. This is all new. We have to go and do this on our own.”
Teurlings (33-9) faces No. 8 seed De La Salle (27-13) at 12:40 p.m. Thursday in the Division III quarterfinals at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.
Other matches featuring Acadiana-area teams on Thursday include: No. 3 seed Barbe (37-5) taking on No 6 Comeaux (28-9) at 8 p.m. in Division I, No. 3 St. Thomas More (33-8) facing No. 6 Academy of Our Lady (31-7) at 6:10 p.m. in Division II, No. 4 Parkview Bapitist (30-9) against No. 5 Rayne (34-7) at 2:30 p.m. in Division III and No. 3 Sacred Heart of Grand Coteau (27-11) facing No. 6 Dunham (18-20) at 10:50 a.m. in Division V.
Teurlings’ four seniors — Alyssa Breaux, Kristen Hamilton, Kynnedie Maloz and Madison Proctor — all played on last year’s team. Hebert said they are some of the greatest kids he has coached and this being his last season with them has been bittersweet.
“Those girls have been dressing varsity since they were freshmen,” Hebert said. “They never ask their younger teammates to do anything that they aren’t doing on the court. They all played last year, and with that experience, they have taken the younger kids and did a good job of getting us here.”
Hebert said getting the No. 1 ranking and holding onto it throughout the year has given him and the team confidence to defend the state championship. He reflected on years of disappointment inside the Pontchartrain Center and said being able to play all three days last year — including a five-set victory over E.D. White in the final — gives the Rebels confidence to repeat.
“Years prior, we kept going to the Pontchartrain Center and losing in the quarterfinals,” Hebert said. “Two years, three years, four years in a row, quarterfinals and we were done. I think going all the way to Saturday last year shows that this is possible. That gives us some confidence that I know we didn’t have in years past.
“It’s almost like it’s our home gym. To play there for three days last year and to experience that five set-battle we had with E.D. White gives us the confidence to go in there and do it again.”