It was billed as the battle of the behemoths — Large Schools No. 1-ranked Mount Carmel vs. Small Schools No. 1 Country Day in a nondistrict, it’s-just-Monday showdown. But that’s not exactly how it went down.
After Mount Carmel (26-2) escaped with a 26-24 win in the first game, tooth-and-nail battle that saw seemingly endless rallies, nearly impossible saves and epic kills from both sides of the court, the Cajuns seemed to fold. Mount Carmel easily took the next two games 25-8 and 25-16 to complete the sweep.
Seniors Katie Kampen and Megan Davenport and junior Kristen Nuss were simply too much for the Cajuns to handle up front.
Kampen led the match with 18 kills and Nuss had five. Davenport added 10 blocks. Jillian Clark had 42 assists and Kellie Kampen had 26 digs.
Country Day (14-3) was led by Caroline Perlis with seven kills and three blocks. Jenna Ibieta had 19 assists and 13 digs. Maddie Leger had 14 digs.
The first game certainly had fans in Country Day’s gym thinking this battle would live up to its billing. There were six ties through the first 15 points and no team led by more than three points at any time. But the Cubs never trailed.
After a tie at 15, Mount Carmel stayed ahead until Country Day tied it at 23 thanks to a flurry of unforced errors by the Cubs. A kill by Nuss made it 24-23, but an error tied it at 24. Marissa Lagasse pounded a kill to make it 25-24, but another Cubs error tied it at 25. Then a Kampen kill made it 26-25 and Davenport spiked a floater over the net for the final point.
After that, the Cajuns seemed to lose their fire. Mount Carmel jumped to a 5-0 lead in the second game and never looked back on the way to a 25-8 win. The third game started more like the first, with ties at 7, 8, 10 and 13. But from there, Nuss, Katie Kampen and Lagasse controlled the net. The three of them combined for eight kills and Clark served an ace to put the match away.
“I definitely knew it was going to be a tough match,” Mount Carmel coach April Hagadone said. “Country Day is a great team, coached very well. They’re always tough every year. They’re a great nondivision match that we know we’re going to get tough competition from. I think the first match, we had a few little unforced errors in the first set, and I think we really stepped up from there and got our rhythm. We might have took the wind out of their sails a little.”
Country Day coach Julie Ibieta was very disappointed.
“I didn’t come in thinking we’d win or lose, but I thought we would compete longer,” Ibieta said. “I think we went into this match expecting a lot from ourselves. The first game was a great game, we battled really hard. And when we did not win that game, I think it kind of threw us out of rhythm. It just took us a long time to get back in rhythm. But credit to Mount Carmel. They played great.”