Ten years ago this month, the Cabrini Crescents won the second of their four state championships in volleyball.
That year, they were led by a multitalented player named Kasey Laird, a four-year letter winner and three-time all-district selection who went on to earn MVP honors on the way to another title in 2008.
A decade later, her name is Laird-Dennies and she is hoping to lead the Crescents back to the top, this time as their coach.
The Crescents took a big step toward that goal Thursday with a 26-24, 25-19, 27-25 victory over district rival No. 7 Ben Franklin in the Division II quarterfinals at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.
Cabrini (30-13), the No. 2 seed, will take on No. 3 St. Scholastica (34-8) in the semifinals at 1:40 p.m. Saturday. St. Scholastica reached the semis with a 25-14, 25-20, 25-23 win over tournament first-timer No. 6 South Lafourche.
Cabrini and Scholastica met only one time this season, with the Crescents taking a 2-1 win.
The winner will face the Teurlings Catholic-Assumption winner at 4:30 p.m. Saturday for the Division II state championship.
Teurlings Catholic won four consecutive titles in Division III before moving up to Division II this year. The Rebels advanced to the semifinals after sweeping five-time defending Division II champion St. Thomas More, 3-0. Teurlings won its 53rd straight match. They are 40-0 on the season.
Cabrini had to get past a solid Ben Franklin team in its third meeting of the season.
“It’s always a battle, point for point every time we play them,” Laird-Dennies said.
This year, Cabrini had the height and the hitters to sweep their rival. Senior Atira Jells led with 16 kills and sophomore Kai Williams had 15.
Jen Brue had 37 assists and 16 digs. Buck had 28 digs.
Ben Franklin (25-16) was led by Darian Duroncolet with 13 kills and four blocks. Nora Leigh Downs had 35 assists. Isabella Grisoli had 27 digs. Duroncolet and Grace Allen each served four aces.
Laird-Dennies said her team will have to play better today to get past St. Scholastica.
“We have to block a little bit better,” she said. “With our size, that’s something we have to do better. If we can find a way to stay in sync, I think we’ll do all right.”
Franklin coach Jodee Pulizzano, who recorded her 800th career win last month, said she was proud of the way her team played Thursday.
“I wish we’d have taken the first game,” Pulizzano said. “We were right there. I thought we had an opportunity. We played hard; we just couldn’t win the long rallies, which we had to. They made plays.”
St. Scholastica coach Pete Bertucci said his team is ready for the challenge with hopes of winning the school’s first title. The Doves were runners-up in 2013.
“Against any team it’s going to come down to serving and passing,” Bertucci said. “If you play bad, you lose you go home.”
Thursday the Doves were led by Alessia Reeves’ 14 kills and two blocks. Aixa Cresco finished with eight kills and two aces. Evey Waguespack had 33 assists and Kellie Garraway had seven digs.
South Lafourche (25-10) had its best season in school history capped by its first trip to the state tournament. Just last year the Tarpons hosted their first home playoff game.
They got 10 kills from Taylor Toups. Sierra Lerille finished with 19 assists, 10 digs and an ace.
Assumption advanced to the semifinals with a three-game sweep of South Terrebonne behind the play of Elise Smith and Raivon Robertson.
South Terrebonne was led by Paityn Landry with nine kills. Valerie LeBlanc had 15 assists, 10 digs and two aces.