Mandeville High School swept past two of the top lower division volleyball teams in Baton Rouge to claim the gold bracket title at the St. Jude Children’s Hospital Tournament on Saturday at The Dunham School.
The Lady Skippers survived a first-set scare from University High in the semifinals to advance with a 27-25, 25-15 win over the Lady Cubs, then knocked off Episcopal in two sets, 25-14 and 25-16 in the final.
Following pool play on Friday, teams were divided into a silver bracket and a gold bracket. Live Oak was the only local team to advance to the silver bracket semifinals, losing to eventual bracket champion Newman 25-15, 25-8. Newman defeated Ben Franklin 25-14, 25-19 for the silver bracket title.
The tournament was sponsored by Redemptorist High but played at the Dunham gym.
“It’s a great facility and we really couldn’t have pulled it off without the help of (Dunham coach) Donna (Pixley) and all she did,” Redemptorist coach Jonathan Levesque said. The St. Jude affiliation is especially meaningful to Levesque whose son Jonathan (Lil J) is cancer free following 2? years of treatment for leukemia at St. Jude.”
Episcopal coach Beverly Russell was remarkably upbeat after her team lost in the final.
“Just to be in the finals is huge, and I’m thrilled that we were able to score 15 points against a 5A team like Mandeville,” she said. “We’re a little 2A team, and they’re a great team with a legitimate Division I college player in Katie Lindelow.
“The series where we won the 11th and 12th points (of the second set) showed us what we can do and hopefully will give us something to build on. That’s what these weekend games are for: to get better,” she said.
Lindelow seemed to be everywhere for the Skippers, blocking, making kills and defensive plays and setting her teammates. At one point she recorded four straight points on impressive kills to help extend the lead from 13-8 to 19-9, but it was her team play that impressed Mandeville coach Jody Walker.
“We know Katie is great, and she always plays with such heart. Our goal now is to be more multi-faceted with all our players,” Walker said.
“There are always some little things you have to work on, like learning to get all you can from every point.”
Senior Laura Boucher joined Lindelow to give the Skippers an imposing front row that was hard to crack and which troubled U-High in the semifinals.
“We played hard and played pretty well but we just couldn’t get over the top,” Cubs coach Bonita Johnson said. “We had three hard games in pool play and didn’t have enough left (for the final),” she said.
After their close first set in the semifinals, Mandeville pulled away by scoring their points in bunches, tallying three and four points at a time to one for the Cubs and Knights. The Skippers also had good performances from senior Lauren Wenzel, Ally Posey and sCourtney Roblenz.
Roblenz scored the first and last points of the final set on a kill and a block. Dutchtown was the third local team to make the semifinals. Coach Patrick Ricks’ Griffins were eliminated by Episcopal 25-22 and 25-13.