Playing in the school’s first-ever state championship game would have been history enough for Ascension Episcopal, but they almost pulled off the upset of the state volleyball playoffs.
The Blue Gators took a game from Country Day, the Cajuns first loss in he postseason, but Ascension Episcopal eventually fell to the top-seeded Cajuns, 25-9, 21-25, 27-25, 25-9 in the Division V Championship game of the LHSAA state tournament Saturday morning at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center.
“Coming into this season, expectations were not state championship-level-high,” Blue Gators coach Jill Braun said. “I didn’t think before the season that we would be sitting her having just played a state championship game. These girls deserve all the credit in the world because they show what a team can do when they come together and bond.
“Our motto was why can’t it be us? This team is full of fighters that play good defense. We put the pieces together and worked as a team. That is what got us to this point.”
Ascension Episcopal (27-11) was once again led by Addie and Sydney Vidrine, who combined for 24 kills and a pair of aces. Mary Catherine Franques had 32 digs and Carolina Cordova had 16 assists.
Nerves were evident in the opening game for Ascension Episcopal, as it fell behind 8-0.
“Playing for the first state championship in school history, you of course are going to come out with nerves,” Braun said. “We went down 0-2 yesterday against Sacred Heart, and just like then the girls just needed to get their groove. Despite what the scoreboard looked like in Game 1, I was not nervous because it just takes us a little while to get warmed up.”
Only in eighth grade, Addie Vidrine admitted the team was nervous in the opening game.
“I think it actually took us sometime to realize that we were playing for a state championship,” she said. “We had never done that in the history of the school. Then after that, winning Game 2, we realized OK we can do this. Unfortunately, we just came up a little short.”
With the win, the Cajuns (40-6) move into fourth-place all-time for overall state championships with nine. Their six state straight championships are also the third-longest streak in LHSAA history, trailing only Newman seven (1995-2001) and ESA’s 16 (1987-2002).
“We came into this season with a mixture of veterans and newcomers,” Cajuns coach Julie Ibieta said. “You have to give a tremendous amount of credit to our three seniors for picking up the leadership role. Winning state championships of course never gets old. Each year and for us each state championship squad has a different personality that started from scratch and grew as the season progressed.”
Country Day was led by Simone Becnel and Caroline Perlis, who each had 13 kills and Summers White added 12.
Maddie Leger had 32 digs and Jenna Ibieta was named Division V Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament after 42 assists.