State volleyball tournament Cabrini gets breakthrough win against Ben Franklin _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Cabrini players celebrate after beating Ben Franklin in a Division II quarterfinal at the LHSAA state volleyball tournament on Thursday at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.

Twice this volleyball season Cabrini and Ben Franklin met on a volleyball court and twice Ben Franklin came away victorious after a five-game battle.

Thus it was no one’s surprise that Thursday night’s Division II quarterfinal matchup of the LHSAA state volleyball tournament pitted the Falcons against the Crescents one more time. But this time, it was Cabrini who came away with the win and a spot in Friday’s Division II semifinal.

Cabrini, the No. 7 seed in the bracket, defeated No. 2 seed Ben Franklin 23-25, 25-19, 25-17, 18-25,15-11 to advance to the semifinals against No. 3 seed Assumption at 1:40 p.m. Friday. The Mustangs defeated No. 6 seed St. Scholastica 3-2.

Belle Chasse, the No. 5 seed, swept No. 4 seed Central of Baton Rouge to advance to the other semifinal at 4:30 p.m. The Cardinals (37-6) will face No. 1 seed and three-time defending state champion St. Thomas More (42-1). The Cougars defeated No. 8 seed Academy of Our Lady Thursday afternoon to earn their semifinal spot.

Friday’s winners will play for the Division II state championship at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the final day of competition at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.

Cabrini coach Kasey Laird said everyone knew Thursday’s match would be a battle. It ended up being a battle of middle blockers, between Cabrini’s Rakell Spencer and Franklin’s Allison Olsonoski.

Spencer finished with a match-leading 28 kills. Olsonoski finished with 27. Spencer also had three blocks while Olsonoski had eight. Both teams played superb defense as well. Cabrini’s Miranda Kelley had 23 digs and Bailey Hepting has 20. Franklin’s Victoria Tidwell had 24 digs.

“We’ve played them three times now, and that’s pretty much the outcome of every match,” Laird said. “We’re both great teams. We both have great middles. The coin just fell on our side tonight.”

Cabrini (27-11) has not been in the final since 2011 when it won its fourth title overall. Assumption has won eight titles, the last in 2009. The Mustangs were the state runners-up to St. Thomas More last year. Belle Chasse has never advanced to the finals.