The final of the 36th Episcopal High Invitational volleyball tournament was a reunion of sorts.
Finalists Metairie Park Country Day and Episcopal School of Acadiana met in last year’s Division V-Classes 1A and below final and also played during the tourney’s pool play.
Once again, the results were the same, with Country Day (10-0) fighting off two late-set comebacks by ESA (7-3) to take the championship 2-0. The Falcons won by scores of 25-23 and 25-17.
Two Baton Rouge schools, St. Joseph’s Academy and Parkview Academy, advanced to the quarterfinals, but only SJA made it to the semifinals before losing to ESA 25-23, 26-16.
Fayette Adelaja of Parkview and Parker Harrell of St. Joseph’s were named to the all-tournament team.
Country Day got off to quick seven-point leads in both sets of the final match. In the first set the lead was 7-0, and in the second the Cajuns jumped out to an 11-4 advantage.
“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Country Day,” ESA coach Julie Dawson said. “They’ve got a great team. They move the ball around a lot and (tournament MVP) Katherine (Broussard) was just unstoppable. But I’m proud of my girls, and I think as a team we grew throughout the tournament.”
In the first set, ESA came back from a 19-12 deficit to pull within one, at 23-22, but a block by Broussard hit the net and dropped in for game point, and Nicole Weinman pushed a shot over the Falcons defenders into an empty court to finish the game.
Country Day coach Julie Ibieta laughed at the idea the early advantages were the result of any strategy.
“I wish I could say it’s our game plan (to build early leads) but our goal is just to focus and play hard on every point,” Ibeita said. “I thought we played a great match and they played a great match, and the difference was just that we were able to keep our focus for a long time.”
The second set was not as competitive as Country Day took control behind Broussard, Savannah Becnel and Ellie George, went ahead by 10 at 18-8 and held game point at 24-13 on a kill by Savannah Becnel.
Outside hitter Avery Munson led a Falcons rally by scoring four of their final five points, but a service fault gave the Cajuns championship point.
“Overall our players played their roles well and did exactly what we asked them to do,” Ibieta said. “Katherine Broussard had a great tournament, our middle hitters, our setters … overall it was a great team effort.”
Senior Becca Laperyre of Country Day joined Broussard on the all-tournament team, along with Carla Dibbs of ESA.
Other members of the all-tournament team were Mary Grace Gitz of St. Scholastica, Mallory Chaisson and Alaina Savoy of Notre Dame and Emily Freshhertz and Lauren Holmes of the Academy of the Sacred Heart.
Episcopal coach and tournament director Beverly Russell said the tournament was once again a success.
“Everything was well-organized, the kids loved it, and our only injury was a girl from St. Joseph’s who tweaked a knee,” Russell said. “It’s kind of a kickoff to the high school season, and it went great.”