BRUSLY — Brusly’s up-and-down volleyball season hit a new high Thursday when the Panthers rolled over Evangel Christian 3-0 in the first round of the LHSAA Division III playoffs. Brusly (29-11) eased through the first two sets 25-12 and 25-9 before facing a sterner test in the third, winning 25-18.
“I’m happy, and I’m excited,” Brusly coach Karen Wooley said. “We finally played consistent ball, and we did what we had to do today. I thought we did a really good job passing, and we were able to get some extra subs in.
“We used one setter (Victoria Genusa) the first two sets, and then we went to her and (Johnee Leblanc) in the last set to get a bigger girl in there in case we need that down the road.”
Leblanc and Genusa joined fellow seniors Claire Daigle and Kelsey Parker as leaders in the Panthers’ all-around performance. Leblanc recorded 10 kills, three assists and three digs. Genusa had 22 assists and 4 digs and Parker had three service aces to go along with five kills.
Daigle had a steady, smooth-passing game in the back row, getting the ball to setters who fed hitters Leblanc, Parker, Brianna Granville (seven kills) and Caitlyn Williams (four kills).
“We had the intensity today,” Leblanc said. “We played together as a team, and it seems like everybody can do something. We were playing our game.”
Evangel Christian (14-7) came in as an unknown quantity, sporting a 14-6 record and a 9-0 district mark, but coach Meghan Fisher knew the Eagles would face a tough challenge.
“We just don’t have the caliber of teams like Brusly in north Louisiana,” she said, “and we don’t get to play teams like this every day. When you have to play someone like this, it kind of takes you out of your element.
“Our girls gave everything they had, but we hurt ourselves and gave away points all through the match that you wish you could get back.”
Evangel was on the defensive most of the match and was led by Madison Graphia with 29 digs and LacCoria Tademy with 13. Tademy and L’Muriell Thrower had five kills apiece for the Eagles. Emily Dermaus finished with 13 assists.
Brusly took the first set behind two strong runs, an eight-point surge with Daigle serving and a six-point run with another senior, Abigail Eilers, on the service line.
The Panthers put the second set away early, jumping to a 13-1 lead and never looking back. Parker had three aces, and Leblanc had three kills during the opening run.
“It was amazing. I was just trying to get the ball in,” Parker said.
Evangel came as close as 20-17 in the third set before handing the Panthers the final five points on mishandled balls and service faults.
Eleventh-ranked Brusly travels to face No. 6 E.D. White on Monday. Wooley recalled a Brusly victory years ago when her team was a 12-seed and they upset a seven-seed in the playoffs in judging their chances against the Cardinals.
Daigle echoed her coach’s positive tack.
“It’s crunch time now,” she said. “We’re in it to win it.”