Ascension Catholic’s dream season came to an end Friday, thanks mostly to a team that was simply too much.
Making its first appearance in the state tournament since 2010, Ascension Catholic fell to top-seed McGehee 3-0 — 6-25, 16-25, 9-25 — in the Division V semifinals at Pontchartrain Center.
“We watched them yesterday, and we thought we knew what to expect,” Ascension Catholic coach Chandra Ewen said. “But they were even better today. The weaknesses we thought we may have seen, they had them corrected. They were phenomenal.”
The Bulldogs, seeking their first state title, finished the season 31-11.
Michayla Spano led the Bulldogs with 21 assists, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
“I’m pleased with our team,” Ewen said. “Do I wish we had played better? Sure. But sometimes you don’t have any choices in that.”
It was the final game for seniors Julia Beck, Rae’Shain Melancon, Kaylee Burns, Claudia Rome and Spano.
“I’ve followed this group since seventh grade, and they’ve played hard and just wanted to win,” Ewen said. “That’s what they focused on. The leadership I got from these seniors can’t be replaced.”
McGehee advances to play Ascension Episcopal in Saturday’s 9 a.m. championship match.
Ascension Episcopal, led by a stellar effort by freshman Addie Vidrine, outlasted six-time state champion Country Day in a 25-23, 35-33, 31-33, 27-25, 18-16 marathon that lasted 2½ hours.
McGehee will go for its sixth state title and first since 2008 on Saturday morning when it plays against an Ascension Episcopal team that avenged its loss in last year’s championship game.
Vidrine led the way with a stellar effort that included a jaw-dropping 49 kills.
“I have never had this feeling before in my entire life,” said Vidrine. “This is better than winning nationals.”
Country Day seemed to be in control early, racing out to an 8-2 lead in the first game.
That’s when Ibieta injured her ankle and the Blue Gators battled back to take a 13-11 lead.
Ibieta returned and Country Day prevailed in the first game 25-22. But that was just the appetizer for things to come. Ascension won the second game 35-33. Country Day responded by winning the third 33-31. Then Ascension won the fourth 27-25 despite trailing 24-21 at one point with the match (and the season) on the line.
“Honestly, I’m speechless,” said Ascension coach Jill Braun. “(To be down) 24-21 to battle back in the fourth game to win. I couldn’t be more proud. Without a question, this is the most impressive match I’ve ever coached in.”
Ibieta finished with 49 assists and Maddie Leger had 39 digs for the Cajuns.
“I thought we had a lot to overcome today, more than we could handle,” Country Day coach Julie Ibiete said. “Jenna went down and not being herself. She battled. We were never in the flow. I thought we played as hard as we could today. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”