The last time the teams met was the Division I semifinals in November. St. Joseph’s Academy won that one and went on to win the Division I state title.
It was more of the same in some ways as SJA notched a 3-0 victory over St. Amant in the nondistrict contest played Thursday night at the Gold Dome. But the 25-12, 27-25, 25-15 contest offered plus and minuses for both.
The pivotal point for unbeaten SJA (6-0) came in the second set. The Redstickers were down 21-15 and coach Sivi Miller called a timeout to remind them they’ve practiced situations where they were behind.
St. Joseph’s then rallied with Madison Daigle and Melissa Currier helping lead the way.
“All in all we didn’t play our best match tonight,” Miller said. “There where times when we played with them. St. Amant has a real quick defense, and they’re athletic.
“We have a couple of go-to players on this team. Madison was a little laid back in the beginning so I challenged her to bring her game, and I felt like as the game went on she became more of an opportunist.”
A block and a kill by Daigle got SJA even at 22-22. The teams traded points with each having a chance to win before Currier and Elise Gasperecz combined on a block to end it at 27-25.
Daigle finished with 13 kills and nine blocks. Katherine Young added 11 kills, while Currier had 12 blocks, eight kills and six aces. Gasperecz finished with 26 assists.
Sisters Alli and Maggie Duplechein led the way for St. Amant (7-4). Alli Duplechein had eight kills, six digs and two blocks, while Maggie Duplechein added six kills, six digs and two blocks. Kourtney Germillion contributed 12 assists, and Brianne Babin had nine digs.
“Our serve-receive was lacking in the first set. … it was a little bit of everything at times,” St. Amant coach Allison Leake said.
“Communication and chemistry have been key things for us all year. When they’re communicating and talking, even if we’re down, we’re able to come back.
“When they stop communicating and stop playing as a team, we’re in trouble and that’s showing up too much. That’s part of the reason why we play such a tough schedule. You see things to work on.”
St. Joseph’s took control of the first set early. St. Amant got within four twice. Soon St. Joseph’s extended its lead to 11-3 with three kills and an ace by Young.
Once SJA stretched its lead to double digits, the going was tougher for St. Amant. Currier had three aces in the final sequence to help finish the set.
“We were all working together to come out with the win,” Currier said. “Our first set was really great. The second I guess we didn’t come out with the same intensity.
“ The third set we started out the same way, but we grabbed it (intensity) back.”
The teams traded points early in the final set. St. Amant closed to within one at 9-8 on a block by Howell. But from there it was almost all St. Joseph’s as the Redstickers scored 16 of the final 23 points to close the match.
“I think we can learn a lot from this kind of game,” St. Amant’s Alli Duplechein said. “When we’re winning it’s all good, but when we’re losing we need to learn to communicate more.”