The Pope John Paul II volleyball team lost two all-state athletes from last year’s Division IV state championship team.
They returned two other all-state players this year. They more than likely will add a couple more when the all-state teams are announced for the 2015 campaign.
That’s how good the Jaguars have been this year, and that’s how good they continued to be Saturday afternoon against fellow district rival Hannan.
Top-seeded Pope John Paul II cruised to the Division IV state title against Hannan 25-23, 25-15, 25-23 at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.
No. 2 seed Hannan, which plays in the same district as PJP, played a good match but couldn’t equal up against the Jaguars — a team some consider the best in state, regardless of division.
It was the second consecutive state championship for the Jaguars. They finished with a 40-2 record with their only losses coming to the top seeds in Division I and II: Mt. Carmel and St. Thomas More. Hannan ended 35-8. That was in nondistrict play, however. When the Jaguars got into their own division and the playoffs, no one could play with them.
“This match, people won’t realize, but that’s a much better Hannan team than they were last year, or even earlier this year,” PJP assistant coach Danny Tullis said. “This was a battle.”
The first set between the two North Shore rivals was close, with both teams jockeying for the lead. After ties of 19 and 24, the Jaguars were able to end the set on a Hannan error at the net.
That miscue seemingly gave PJP an impressive sense of urgency. They jumped to a 15-5 lead in the second set, and when Hannan coach Becky Bonnfafee called time out at that point, the momentum clearly was with the top seed.
The Jaguars ended the second set on a powerful kill by Camille Dedeaux that went right into the center of the Hannan defense. Hannan struggled to get back into the match in the third game but never could get a decisive edge on the Jaguars.
“I guess that a lot of teams don’t have great communication on the court, but we do,” PJP’s Sarah Trosclair said. “I think Hannan has great teamwork and communication. But we literally have these great relationships in volleyball or not. And it just helps a lot.”
PJP was led by Dedeaux with 17 kills. Ansley Tullis added 10 kills in the win. Milayne Danna, one of PJP’s returning all-state players, had 29 assists. Marlena Cutura (PJP’s other returning all-state player) and Tullis combined for 36 digs.
Hannan was led by Hailey Cabeceiras, who had 11 kills and an ace. Tatum Ballard had 24 assists and Michayla Boyer had 22 digs.