It has already been a year of firsts for the St. John-Plaquemine volleyball team.
The Eagles claimed the first volleyball district title in school history and advanced to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s State Volleyball Tournament for the first time in at least a decade.
St. John coach Chase Mancuso said his junior and sophomore-laden team now has its sights set on another first — their first state tourney win.
The Eagles (28-12), seeded seventh, face traditional power Episcopal School of Acadiana, the No. 2 seed, in a quarterfinal at 11:45 a.m. at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center.
“Last year our goal was to make the state tournament and we lost in the second round to ESA,” Mancuso said. “This year the goal was to win a district title and get to the state tournament, which we’ve done.
“Based on their reaction last night after we won and again today at practice, I know they’re not satisfied. They want to do whatever they can to win at the tournament.”
Mancuso’s lineup consists of four juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen. The juniors started when Mancuso took over the program two years ago. Junior outside hitter Jessie Brown leads the Eagles with 401 kills, 97 aces and 239 digs. Another junior, Kamryn Theriot, is the top defensive player and has 563 digs to go along with 101 aces. Sophomore outside hitter Victoria Weaver adds 242 kills and 78 aces.
St. Amant (34-5) in Division I-Class 5A, Broadmoor (31-12) in Division II-4A, Parkview Baptist in Division III-3A (29-8) and University High in Division IV-2A (29-8) were also in the LHSAA State Tournament last season. St. Joseph’s Academy (31-10), also in Division I-5A, returns to the tourney after a one-year absence.
Getting past Thursday’s quarterfinal round is the key test for all the local teams. St. Amant, Broadmoor, Parkview and University all lost in the quarterfinals last fall.
The ESA-St. John game is one of three 11:45 a.m. quarterfinals involving local-area teams. Also set for 11:45 is No. 7 Broadmoor vs. top-seeded St. Thomas More and third-seeded University vs. No. 6 St. Thomas Aquinas. STA beat the Cubs in the quarterfinals a year ago.
Parkview, seeded fourth, meets No. 5 E.D. White at 5 p.m. Fourth-seeded St. Amant and No. 6 SJA play at 6:45 p.m. SAHS faces Dominican-New Orleans, while St. Joseph’s takes on No. 3 Destrehan.