Acadiana area teams carry volleyball state title aspirations _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- St. Thomas More's Sarah Trotter attacks the ball as Teurlings' Bailey Broussard (33) and Greta Collet (31) go for the block in September.

The state’s top volleyball teams will meet Thursday in Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center for quarterfinals in the LHSAA/Allstate Sugar Bowl State Volleyball Tournament, where many Acadiana-area teams will try to earn a state championship.

For many teams, it’s an opportunity to add to an already long list of accolades and accomplishments, while others look to prove they belong in the same conversation as the perennial powerhouses.

Top-seeded teams and reigning champions St. Thomas More and Teurlings Catholic have made extended trips to the Pontchartrain Center annually.

This year, St. Thomas More hopes to graduate a group of girls who have never failed to win a state championship, as it goes for its fourth consecutive Division II state title, while Teurlings looks to cement its spot as one of the state’s top programs with its first three-peat in Division III.

The Cougars (41-1) play No. 8 Academy of our Lady (28-9) and Teurlings (29-9) will play eighth-seeded Parkview Baptist (24-16) in quarterfinals. The semifinals are set for Friday and the finals Saturday.

“We know what our ultimate goal is,” St. Thomas More coach Jessica Burke said. “We’re focused on that and getting better.”

On the other side of the spectrum are programs like Comeaux in Division I or Ascension Episcopal in Division V, as both programs look to earn their first state championships.

AES coach Jill Braun hopes this season marks the end of a long journey. Since the inception of the Blue Gator’s volleyball program seven years ago, they have consistently moved closer and closer to the title. It came the closest last season when it made its first final appearance but fell to Metarie Park Country Day in straight sets.

If No. 3 AES (27-10) defeats No. 6 First Baptist (22-10), there is a chance it will get a chance at redemption with a semifinal contest against second-seeded Country Day.

“I’m looking forward to possibly meeting Country Day again in the semifinals,” Blue Gators coach Jill Braun said. “I still feel like we left some things on the court at moments of the third game last year.”

The Blue Gators aren’t the only Acadiana-area team with its sights set on Country Day, as the defending champions will play No. 7 Episcopal of Acadiana in the quarterfinals Thursday.

If Episcopal School of Acadiana pulled off the big upset, it could set up a showdown between area teams for a spot in the final.

After going more than a decade without a trip to the quarterfinals, Comeaux coach Kristen Fabacher has led the Spartans to the state tournament for the second consecutive season.

Despite being one of the lowest-seededteams in the tournament, Fabacher wants to prove Comeaux can compete with the state’s best programs, and it will get that chance when it takes on No. 2 Mandeville.

“If we can come out with the same intensity and enthusiasm we had (against Dutchtown), play the best that we can and stay focused, I feel like we can beat them,” Fabacher said. “They’re definitely a beatable team.”

Other area teams competing in the tournament include Division IV’s No. 3 Notre Dame, which will play No. 6 Riverside Academy and No. 5 Rayne, which takes on last year’s Division III runner-up Ursuline Academy.