ST. AMANT — Central volleyball coach Michele LeBouef said she wants her team to play with toughness.
Central did just that in the fifth set and took a 3-2 victory over host St. Amant on Monday night in a nondistrict battle of Division I teams.
Central won the first two sets 26-24 and 27-25. St. Amant prevailed 25-17 and 25-12 in the next two sets. St. Amant led 7-6 in the fifth set before Central put things together for a 15-11 victory.
“It was an exciting match with a playoff feel,” LeBouef said. “This is the first time I’ve seen my team turn it on this season and grit it out. That’s pretty big for us.”
Central (29-6) and St. Amant (20-13) are both 7-0 in their respective districts with one match to play.
Both teams have skilled finishers at the net.
Central’s Kelsey Cooke and Kathryn Mancuso both served aces that hit the net and dropped in during the fifth set. Central tied the set at 7 on a kill by junior Jordan Stephens, who had 20 kills and five digs.
Central’s Madaline Tarver had a nice block at the net and followed that with a tip for a 9-7 lead. St. Amant scored two straight points to cut the deficit to 13-11.
Central scored the next two points.
“Central served very tough and played really well,” St. Amant coach Allison Leake said. “Our serve receive and defense was not good tonight. It has been much better this season. We will definitely be working on lots of passing.”
St. Amant runs a 6-2 offense and the Gators were on a roll in the third and fourth sets.
Kourtney Gremillion (16 kills, 31 assists, 10 digs, two blocks), Maggie Duplechein (17 kills, 16 assists, 13 digs) and Madison Anderson (11 kills, six digs) led the Gators.
Erin Antie (15 digs) and Taylor Tidwell (seven kills, three digs) also stood out.
Central senior Kaitlyn Cooke had 36 kills and seven digs. Central’s Kathryn Mancuso (16 digs) and Cameron Clement (11 digs) were key defensive players.
“Kathryn Mancuso played out of the world,” LeBouef said. “She’s scrappy and kept so many balls alive. Shalyn Marshall had a ton of touches with her blocks.”
Clement scored the winning point for CHS in the second set on a nice shot from the back row.
Central led 13-10 in the third set. St. Amant went on a 15-4 run. Anderson, a 5-foot-2 junior outside hitter, had three nice points in that run.
Central scored two straight points, including an ace by Cooke, to cut St. Amant’s lead to 9-8 in the fourth set.
The Gators went on a 16-4 run. Brianne Babin and Gremillion had aces in that run and Duplechein was a force at the net.