For the Mount Carmel volleyball team, 2014 was all about 11-11.
That was the score in last year’s Game 5 of the Division I championship match between St. Joseph’s and Mount Carmel before the Cubs let it slip away, before St. Joseph’s went on to win 15-11 and celebrated on the Pontchartrain Center floor with the state championship trophy while the Cubs cried. And any time Mount Carmel would get down this season, its rallying cry and motivation became “11-11.”
Well there was an 11-11 tie in Game 3 of Saturday night’s Division I championship between the Cubs and the Redstickers. But this time, Mount Carmel didn’t let it away. Leading St. Joseph’s two games to none, the Cubs fought their way back to sweep their nemesis/archrival 25-23, 25-17, 26-24 for the 2014 title.
It is Mount Carmel’s 10th volleyball state championship. After winning No. 9 in 2012, the Cubs let last year’s get away to St. Joseph’s. Then the two teams met four times this season, with each team winning two. This being the rubber match, most volleyball fans expected it to be a marathon battle between the two best Division I teams in the state. Even St. Joseph’s coach Sivi Miller expected the match to last longer than it did — not end in three games.
“I expected it would go four or five sets,” Miller said. “I expected we were going to win it. Our team was very ready and Mount Carmel was obviously very ready as well. It was three sets, but it was point-to-point. We just let them get too many points in a row.“
Mount Carmel coach April Hagadone said her team had set a goal.
“We had a goal when we started the playoffs this year, and it was to go 12 sets and sweep everybody in three,” Hagadone said. “And we made that goal a reality tonight.”
The Cubs (44-3) did it with a stout defense and the hard hitting of Katie Kampen. The senior who signed just this week to play for LSU, finished the match with 21 kills and earned the Outstanding Player Award. Megan Davenport had eight blocks, Kellie Kampen had two aces, Jillian Clark had 40 assists and Kristen Nuss has 18 digs.
“We wanted it,” Katie Kampen said. “Really, we all pulled together. The bench was amazing. Just the spirit and enthusiasm we bring to this court makes a huge difference.”
“I can’t say enough about these girls,” Hagadone said. “Katie always steps it up. With the leadership of these girls, I knew we could do it. They have so much heart and determination.”
They also had a great defense. Miller and her players especially credited the Cubs’ defense for taking the Redstickers (47-2) out of their game plan. Katherine Young led St. Joseph’s with 12 kills and Sydney Davis had eight. Madison Daigle and Hanna Rovira had four blocks each. Young served three aces and had 10 digs. Elise Gasperecz had 35 assists. Melanie Miller had 24 digs.
“We all played really hard,” Young said. “But I think we played hard at the wrong times. There were points that we needed to get urgently, and we didn’t.”
Mount Carmel never trailed in the first game and allowed three ties in the second game — the last at 13. St. Joseph’s took a 7-1 lead in the third game and led for most of it, even pulling away from that 11-11 tie. But Mount Carmel fought back to tie the game at 23 and again at 24 before a St. Joe’s hitting error gave the Cubs a 25-24 lead then Kampen scored the championship winning kill.
Hagadone said that, after last year, Davenport pinky swore with her that they would never let an 11-11 happen again.
“And you don’t break pinky swears,” Hagadone said.