Photos: LHSAA Volleyball Friday _lowres

Advocate Photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- St. Thomas More's, Michelle Gautreaux,7, jumps up in celebration after her team defeated St. Scholastica Academy at the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Volleyball State Tournament held at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner on Friday, November 14, 2014.

St. Thomas More wrapped up a return trip the Division II state championship game with a convincing semifinal victory over St. Scholastica on Friday afternoon at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.

The third-seeded Cougars won in straight sets over second-seeded SSA, 25-16, 25-19, 25-22 at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center.

Next up is top-seeded Assumption in the championship match at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Cougars (34-8) were last year’s Division II champ, and on Friday, they played like they wanted another title. After taking a 7-2 lead to start the match, they found themselves up 21-13 before moving on to the first-set win.

In the second set, St. Thomas More doubled up St. Scholastica by a 16-8 margin and put the set away on a powerful kill by Melanie Zimmer down the center of the court. The Doves took a 16-10 lead in the third set, but the Cougars eventually tied the score at 18 on a block by Zimmer. Maddy Aucoin gave St. Thomas More the lead for good when she rocketed a left-fisted kill through the center of the SSA defense.

“We knew we were in for a tough match today, and we knew we had to bring it,” Zimmer said. “We had to play with intensity and hope to get in their heads a little bit.”

St. Thomas More coach Jessica Burke said her team had its hands full with the Doves, but was confident it could advance again to the state finals.

“This was about preparedness,” Burke said. “We’ve worked all season to be right here, playing for this. The state championship is always an expectation of mine and these kids. You just can’t say enough about them and the work they’ve put in to get here.”

Kathleen Alexander led St. Thomas More with nine kills, and three blocks. Zimmer had seven kills and six blocks. Molly Jacobsen and Avery Breaux combined for 29 assists.

St. Scholastica (37-7) was led by Jessica Lucio with 11 kills. Emma Estapa had 22 assists and Maddie Morris and Annie Schwartz combined for 19 digs.

Assumption 3, Ben Franklin 0: The Mustangs cruised into the state championship game with a 25-15, 25-13, 25-17 win.

Assumption (38-6) was led by Kevreion Ward who had 13 kills and two blocks. Ben Franklin (30-15) was paced by Allison Olsonoski with 11 kills; as well as Victoria Tidwell with 15 digs and two aces. Claire Molaison added 22 assists in the loss.