The first three sets of Monday’s volleyball playoff game between Chapelle and Slidell were each tied 21-21 late.
The Tigers hung tough, but the No. 6 Chipmunks’ senior leadership shined through each time to take a a 25-21, 25-23, 25-22 three-set win over No. 11 Slidell at home to move on to the quarterfinals of the Division I volleyball playoffs for the third year in a row.
The Chipmunks (22-16) will move on to face No. 3 seed St. Joseph’s, which beat 14th-seeded Fontainebleau in three sets Monday, at the Pontchartrain Center on Wednesday,
“I think it’s huge for the girls,” Chapelle coach Shannon Spafford said of the team’s third straight trip to the Pontchartrain Center.
“They’ve worked extremely hard this year, and everyday their goal has been to make it back to the Pontchartrain Center. ... It’s a huge motivation every year for them to make it to this point and they did.”
Leading the way for Chapelle’s veteran squad was senior hitter Kayla Jones, who finished with a team-high 14 kills and tied for the team-high in digs with 13. Hannah Volpi 23 assists and 13 kills
For Slidell (23-17), Erica Bennett and Chelsea Harrington each tied for the team high with nine kills, while Riley Herdliska reeled in a game-high 33 assists.
“We’ve all been playing together for like five years, so we pretty much know everything about each other,” Jones said. “We all communicate really well with each other, and it’s just easy to mesh.”
After falling behind 11-4 to start the first set, Slidell turned its aggression up and fought to take a 21-20 lead, but Chapelle found its groove and claimed the final five points to secure a 25-21 win. The Tigers kept things close to the end of the second set, but the Chipmunks scored the final two points to break a 23-23 tie and claim a 2-0 lead in the match.
Slidell held a 19-16 lead at one point in the final set, but the Chipmunks fought their way back into the game, and a soaring kill from Jones secured a 25-22 win and the sweep for Chapelle.
“It’s a rarity to have nine seniors that help this team as much as they do,” Spafford said. “They bring leadership, they bring confidence and just that overall feeling of security.”
Slidell coach Lori Anderson said that her team, which advanced to the regional round with a three-set win over No. 22 Sulphur, lacked the necessary experience to close out tough games like Monday’s against good teams such as Chapelle.
“They are an extremely experienced team, and they made all the plays at the end to win it,” said Anderson. “Our girls fought extremely hard all the way through, but we just don’t have the experience in those moments at the end of the game where everything matters.
“I’m very proud of the way we played. It just wasn’t enough at the end.”