ST. AMANT — Four different St. Amant players had at least six kills and the Gators controlled the middle of the net with a 3-0 volleyball victory over St. Michael the Archangel on Wednesday.
Seniors Alli Duplechein (nine kills, five blocks) and libero Kara Gremillion (13 digs) paced St. Amant to 25-14, 25-10 and 25-20 victories. Their younger sisters, junior Kourtney Gremillion (six kills, 14 assists) and sophomore Maggie Duplechein (seven kills, 14 assists, six digs), help make this Gators team a real family unit.
St. Amant (1-0) was a Division I semifinalist last season and returns several multi-year starters. St. Michael (1-1) was a Division II regional playoff team last season and rallied for a 3-2 victory over Zachary of Division I in its opener Tuesday.
“I think we’ll make a very good run this season,” St. Amant coach Allison Didier Leake said. “We really played well in the first and second sets.
“We had a lull in the third set, but we came back and stopped their run. I liked that we were aggressive and it was a good starting match for us.”
St. Michael coach Robert Smith said his team plays a tough schedule early to become battle-tested before the playoffs.
“We played better against Zachary,” Smith said. “We came out flat tonight. We finally played with energy in the third set.
“St. Amant is always scrappy and a top Class 5A program year in and year out. They’ve got good size. They run fast offense. We didn’t serve real tough, which allowed them to take that first contact real easy and get into their offense.”
St. Michael trailed 12-9 in the first set when the Gators got in a groove with sophomore Brianne Babin serving up a 4-0 run. The Warriors got as close as 18-12. St. Amant took control down the stretch as Kourtney Gremillion had two nice tips at the net.
The second set was tied at 2-2. St. Amant went on a 6-0 run and led 10-3 following Alli Duplechein’s block.
“Alli Duplechein is a very strong kid and was All-Metro last season,” Leake said.
“She’s improved a lot this season. Victoria Howell (seven kills) is another senior who has come on, and she’s hitting it harder than ever.”
In the third set, St. Michael rallied from a 17-10 deficit to tie things at 18-18. The Warriors did most of the damage with the serving of Amari Bellard, a newcomer from Tennessee. Bellard (12 digs, five kills) had a nice tip to end a two-minute rally.
St. Michael pulled within 20-19 on a kill by 5-10 senior Madeleine Gremillion (five kills). St. Amant took control from there with middle blocker Alli Duplechein scoring three points in different ways.
“I want us to run quicker things on offense,” Leake said. “We’re capable.”
St. Amant entertains Mt. Carmel at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in another key contest. Mt. Carmel was the Division I runner-up to St. Joseph’s Academy last season.