When a significant event is pending, most people consider two options — a best-case scenario or a worst-case scenario.
Sometimes you get exactly what you expected. Or something better than you wanted.
That was the case for Lutcher and Central high schools when the LHSAA released its volleyball playoff pairings Monday afternoon.
“We’ve never been a No. 2 seed before, so it’s exciting,” Lutcher coach Ricky LeBlanc said. “I’ve been doing this a long time (15 years) and even I’ve got butterflies in my stomach. We’re excited about seeing what we can do in the playoffs this year.”
Lutcher (31-6) claimed on the second seed in Division II, the best playoff seeding spot in school history. Central (36-6) also made school history with a No. 4 seed in Division II.
St. Joseph’s Academy (28-11), last year’s Division I runner-up, grabbed the third seed in Division I. Also claiming a No. 4 seed was Division V Ascension Catholic (29-10).
Episcopal (26-10) was seeded seventh in Division IV, while St. Amant (26-13) took the No. 5 seed in Division I.
The top eight seeds in each division garner a bidistrict-round bye. Bidistrict contests can begin as early as Tuesday and must be completed before Friday. Mount Carmel Academy (Division I), St. Thomas More (Division II), Teurlings Catholic (Division III), Pope John Paul II (Division IV) and Louise McGehee (Division V) grabbed the top seeds.
The seeding meeting for a committee of coaches from all divisions went longer than expected at the LHSAA office. Instead of being released around noon, the pairings were finalized after 3 p.m.
That time factor could have made Central coach Michele Lebouef feel a bit apprehensive, but it didn’t. The Wildcats closed out their season with eight wins last week, including a first-place finish at the 40th Episcopal Invitational, alleviating any concerns Lebouef had about any seeding spot her team got.
“It looked like we were going to be a No. 4 seed and we were prepared for that,” Lebouef said. “We’ll play either Carencro or Sam Houston and those teams we know something about.
“I think we’ll match up well. It’s taken some time but this team is finally playing with confidence. Our defense is better and they believe in themselves.
“That’s so important.”
There was another confidence builder for Central. Top-seeded St. Thomas More lost its first match of the year to St. Amant in the final of last Saturday’s Spooktacular tournament at Episcopal School of Acadiana. Central beat St. Amant last week at SAHS 3-2.
Lutcher’s LeBlanc followed the Spooktacular results from home. The LHS coach said the success of several teams in that final tournament of the year helped his team grab the No. 2 seed away from Westlake, third seed.
“I watched those results closely,” LeBlanc said. “Several teams we played against during the year were in it and that gave us the chance to pick up some more power points. Westlake didn’t play anybody who was in that tournament so it gave us an advantage.”
Miller’s SJA team played on the opposite side of the bracket from St. Amant and didn’t make the final. She said she is pleased with the season for her team that had to replace a number of starters from a year ago.
“(The No. 3 seed) is good,” Miller said. “I’m excited about the playoffs because I still think there is so much out there this team can accomplish. With the bye, you go back to work on things and compete among yourselves. You build on it.”
Ascension Catholic coach Chandra Ewen also looks for her team to build on its success to date. The Bulldogs could face district rival St. John in next Monday’s regional round.
“It’s been a very good year for us,” Ewen said. “I wish we had gotten the three just so we could stay away from the No. 1 team (Louise McGehee) a little longer. We’ve got to win some before we get to that. If it’s St. John, that will be tough. They’re a rival and beating any team three times in one year is the hardest thing to do.”
Why so long?
SJA’s Miller serves on the seeding committee and said the delay in releasing the brackets had nothing to do with conflict. It was about making sure seeding positions were correct.
“The meeting was longer because we took time to check things,” Miller said. “We wanted to make sure scores were reported correctly and everything was the way it needed to be.”