Mount Carmel volleyball coach April Hagadone knew that her team would have some jitters in their first home match after winning a Division I state championship last season.
Fortunately for the Cubs, those jitters didn’t last very long.
After a sluggish start, Mount Carmel (1-0) flexed its muscles in front of their home crowd and defeated Northshore 25-23, 25-11, 25-11 on Tuesday.
“We’re a new team. We’re still trying to learn each other,” Hagadone said. “Everyone comes out for that first game just to see what we have this year. But we’re going to be a force as soon as we get it all together.”
The Panthers (0-1) came out on a mission trying to show they could hang with the No. 1 team in the New Orleans Advocate’s Large School rankings, jumping out to a 9-1 lead in the first set before the Cubs gained some momentum.
After falling behind early, Mount Carmel started making things more difficult on Northshore and fought all the way back into the set before back-to-back kills from Mount Carmel hitter Kristen Nuss tied it at 19.
Northshore continued to attack despite the momentum swing, but the Cubs eventually overwhelmed it and took the first set 25-23.
“We knew we probably didn’t deserve to win that first set,” said Nuss, who finished with a team-high 18 kills. “Going in the second, we knew we had to pick it up. Once we did that, we knew we would start turning it around.”
Once Mount Carmel found its groove at the end of the first set, it showed the type of dominance that has led it to six consecutive Division I title games.
The Cubs sprinted out to a 12-3 lead to start the second set before cruising to a 25-11 finish, and repeated that effort by finishing the Panthers off with another 25-11 set to end the match.
“We had a lot of miscues in the beginning and we just needed to settle down,” Hagadone said. “Northshore played really great, and they didn’t let us have anything, but I’m proud of the way we responded.”
The Cubs took over by clamping down on defense, which was led by a dominating seven-block performance from senior middle blocker Marissa Lagasse and a team-high 18 digs by Nuss.
Junior setter Katie Prange led the team with 18 assists, while junior outside hitter Kellie Kampen was second on the team with 12 kills.
“We just really had to settle in,” said Nuss, an LSU sand volleyball commitment. “We were messing up with some miscommunications. Once we started communicating ,and dealing with the crowd noise, we started settling in.”