ST. AMANT — Two volleyball teams trying to find their identity squared off at the Gold Dome on Tuesday evening, and it was St. Amant that answered the call.
After dropping the first two sets, the Gators pulled themselves together to post a 3-2 win over St. Thomas More by scores of 14-25, 22-25, 25-12, 25-17 and 15-13.
Led by Kourtney Gremillion and Alli Duplechein, St. Amant (9-4) got its game in gear at the net. St. Thomas More (10-4) trailed for most of the third and fourth games, but faltered in the fifth game after leading 12-11 and 13-12.
St. Amant tied the final game 13-13 on Gremillion’s kill and took the lead when poor STM ballhandling led to a missed set off the ensuing serve. For the final point, Gremillion’s serve caromed long off a Cougars defender, and St. Amant had completed its comeback.
Sophomore Maggie Duplechein topped the Gators with 18 kills and added 22 assists. Gremillion, a junior, had 13 kills, 23 assists and six blocks. Senior Alli Duplechein finished with nine kills, four aces and eight blocks.
St. Thomas More, which returned only two starters from last season’s Division II state championship squad, got 13 kills and eight digs from Sarah Trotter. Kathleen Alexander chipped in with 11 kills, and Molly Jacobson had 38 assists and 11 digs.
St. Amant coach Allison Leake was pleased with her team’s ability to shift momentum its way after losing the first two games.
“In a lot of timeouts, I told the girls I can’t scream, but it’s stressing me out,” Leake said. “It’s not the physical it’s the mental, and it’s been that way for most of the matches we’ve played.
“We’ve been up and down and inconsistent.”
Against St. Thomas More, the Gators were down and then up, the opposite of what took place for the Cougars.
“We just lost momentum. I guess you could say we lost our groove,” said coach Jessica Burke, whose STM squad had played six games in two days last weekend during a tournament at Ursuline Academy.
“We just came off of the Catholic league tournament, and we played like it. We looked like we didn’t want to give energy, and nothing was clicking.”
The ending provided a contrast for the Cougars, who won the first game 25-14, and then separated themselves from St. Amant after the second game was tied 13-13.
Trotter had three kills as St. Thomas More moved out to a 21-16 lead. Two service errors helped St. Amant pull back into a tie at 22-22, but Alexender’s kill and two Gator’s hitting errors gave the Cougars a 25-22 win.
In the third game, St. Amant charged out to a 17-7 lead and coasted to a 25-12 lead. The win shifted momentum over to the Gators and had the Cougars trying to find a way to stop it.
“Sometimes it’s impossible,” Burke said. “We had to come together as a team, and stop making unforced errors.
“It just didn’t happen for us today. When a match comes down that close, if you make one little mistake then that’s the game.”
Game four was tied 9-9, but a kill and a block by Maggie Duplechein put the Gators ahead for good. The lead grew to 20-12 on Gremillion’s tip, and St. Amant maintained that lead before winning the game 25-17.
“I knew the match would be a flip of the coin as far as who won,” Leake said. “I was disappointed in the first two sets, but pleased with the end result. It could easily have gone the other way.”