Kristen Nuss had to wipe away the tears Saturday night.
For Nuss and the six other Mount Carmel seniors, it was mixed emotions.
Their Mount Carmel volleyball careers had come to an end.
But it was a happy ending, capped by them leaving their mark in a big way: with back-to-back titles.
No. 1 seed Mount Carmel repeated as Division I champions with an easier-than-expected 3-0 victory over No. 2 Mandeville at the Pontchartrain Center.
“It’s certainly a great way to go out,” Nuss said. “It’s been a great ride. It’s the last time I am going to put this jersey on. I’m speechless.”
The Mount Carmel express just keeps on rolling.
It was the fourth title in six years for the Cubs and the 10th overall. The 10 titles moved Mount Carmel into third overall, trailing only Newman (16), Sacred Heart (13).
The last four have all come under the guidance of coach April Hagadone, in her ninth season. It was also Mount Carmel’s first repeat since going back-to-back in 1999 and 2000.
“It’s been 15 years since Mount Carmel repeated so this is sort of their thumbprint,” Hagadone said. “This is the team that went through more of a roller coaster than most teams.”
Mount Carmel (40-5) avenged one of its five losses with Saturday’s victory after having lost to Mandeville 2-0 in the Sacred Heart Tournament early in the year.
But the Cubs won the one that mattered most.
“We were a completely different team then and were still trying to find our rhythm then,” Hagadone said.
The Cubs had little trouble this time around.
Nuss and Ellie Hotzman had back-to-back kills in the first game and Marissa Lagasse closed it out with a block for a 25-15 victory.
It was Hotzman again closing out the second game, a 25-18 win, with a kill. They won the third game 25-17 and then dog-piled on the Pontchartrain Center floor.
Nuss, also a basketball standout at the school, was named Most Valuable Player after a 15-kill, 15-dig performance. She will play beach volleyball at LSU next year.
“She does everything 100 percent and never gives up,” Hagadone said.
Marissa Lagasse, who will play at Louisiana-Monroe, finished with 10 kills and eight blocks. Kristen Perry had 19 assists and Taylor Meyer had 13 digs.
Paire Escarra had six blocks.
Mandeville (36-7) was seeking its second state title and first since 2005, but came up a match short.
“This is the first time any of these kids have even made it to the Pontchartrain Center,” Skippers coach Jody Walker said. “We tried to prepare them the best we can on what they can expect . But you don’t get that unless you actually experience it. I am extremely pleased with what we have done in our program. A first time team getting to the Pontchartrain Center is not supposed to make it to the finals.
And the future looks bright for the Skipper with just two seniors departing.
“We’ll definitely be back,” said junior Samantha Gomez, who finished with four blocks.
Kailynn Haley had a team-high 13 kills and Brandy Bundy finished with 32 assists, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
The all-New Orleans area match assured that three of the five champions crowned on Saturday would be local teams. McGehee (Division V) and Pope John Paul II (Division IV) also won championships earlier in the day.