The Cabrini volleyball team certainly knew what it was up against Saturday in the Division II finals at the LHSAA State Volleyball Tournament.
The Crescents, making their first finals appearance since 2010, had to face the No. 1 seed in the bracket, the three-time defending state champion St. Thomas More Cougars who went into Saturday’s final game with an impressive record of 44-1 — having lost only its last tournament game of the regular season.
And it went about as expected. Cabrini’s power hitting Rakell Spencer finished with a match-leading 16 kills, but was no match for the power front of St. Thomas More’s Maddy Aucoin, Meredyth Howard and Maddy Morgan. Behind their defense and power hitting, the Cougars easily swept Cabrini 25-14, 25-19, 25-19 to win their fourth consecutive title. But they couldn’t have done it without the superb setting of Avery Breaux, who finished with 27 assists and who was named the Outstanding Player of the Game.
“This team has been exceptional,” St. Thomas More coach Jessica Burke said. “Obviously, they went through the regular season without dropping a game. Then after we lost in the last regular-season game, we just took the time to refocus and went back to work.”
That work paid off with postseason playoff sweeps of its next four opponents — Central Lafourche, Academy of Our Lady, Belle Chasse and Cabrini.
But the Crescents left the Pontchartrain Center on Saturday with heads held high and with the support of a raucous group of fans who turned out to cheer the team on. Cabrini finished 28-12 under first-year coach Kasey Laird, herself a former Crescent player, state champion (2007) and MVP.
“This season has been kind of a whirlwind,” Laird said. “It seems like it just started yesterday. This is the biggest group of fighters I’ve ever seen. We fought against some of the best teams in the state. We fought hard all this weekend. They’re a special group of girls and I couldn’t be prouder. It just wasn’t our day.”
The team also turned Spencer, one of the Metro area’s top basketball players, into a tremendous volleyball player.
“I wanted to play volleyball but, when I first started, I didn’t even know how to,” Spencer said. “Everybody thought I was just a basketball player. I couldn’t even block. I used to stand and jump against the wall.
“(Assistant) coach Mary (Cordeiro), she believed in me and I appreciate her for that.”