Even though most area volleyball teams are in the thick of district play, 17 south Louisiana schools still have selected to add some tough nondistrict competition to their schedules.
They’ll find it at the Maggie Millet/Country Day Volleyball Tournament on Friday and Saturday in Old Metairie.
Of the tournament participants, 10 have been or are currently listed in The New Orleans Advocate’s Sweet 16 Volleyball Rankings this year. And of the remaining six teams, four are from outside the metro New Orleans area and are not eligible to be listed in those rankings.
With that kind of firepower, Country Day coach Julie Ibieta is expecting a great event.
“The whole tournament is loaded with good teams,” she said. “We seeded them based upon power rankings from a couple days ago, but still, I think it’s pretty close (to being perfectly accurate.)”
Teams are bracketed into pool play. Pool A has Country Day, Lakeshore, John Curtis and Hahnville. Pool B is composed of Mount Carmel, Sacred Heart-New Orleans, Episcopal, Slidell and Haynes. Pool C is Assumption, St. Scholastica, Comeaux, and Sacred Heart-Grand Coteau, and Pool D is Cabrini, Northshore, Dominican and Helen Cox.
Each team in each pool will play every team in its pool. The two teams with the best record from each pool will advance to a Gold Bracket. The bottom two teams in each pool will go into the Silver Bracket. Champions of both will be decided at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Ibieta said her team, which is ranked No. 4 in the Sweet 16 small school listing, will have to play well to defeat Division II Lakeshore and Division IV Curtis. Both are in The New Orleans Advocate rankings, as well.
“I think the way to keep playing at a top level is to keep playing tough teams,” Ibieta said. “You play teams from across the state, so you can see different offenses and different defenses. That way, when you get to the state tournament, you have seen many different styles. You have to play the best to be the best.”
Country Day is the defending Division V state champion. The Cajuns lost several players to graduation but have relied on a solid returning group to post a 14-6 record.
Leading the way for Country Day are junior setter Jenna Ibieta, senior libero Maddie Leger, junior middle blocker Samantha Henderson and sophomore defensive specialist Leigh Maher.
“We’ve played a tough schedule and at times we’ve played well,” coach Ibieta said. “We’re hoping to find consistency and really start playing well through October into the tournament.”
Defending Division I state champ Mount Carmel is the No. 1 ranked team in the New Orleans’ Advocate’s large school listing and is the No. 1 seed in the Country Day Tournament. Other top seeds in the tournament are Cabrini (No. 3 in the large school rankings;) and Assumption, a school in the bayou region. As such, the team is not listed in The New Orleans Advocate’s rankings.)
Play begins at 4 p.m. Friday at Country Day, with three matches taking place simultaneously. Play will resume at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
The tournament is named after Millet, who coached at Country Day for 41 years. She guided the school’s volleyball teams to 32 state tournaments – winning three titles and finishing as runner-up seven times. She is a founding member of the Louisiana Volleyball Officials Association.
“She is such a figure in female athletics, especially in volleyball,” Ibieta said. “It was a huge honor to take over the volleyball program for her. She was still here when I became coach, and she was a mentor to me. … She’s a huge sports figure in the state of Louisiana.”