Baton Rouge volleyball contingent win away from state tournament _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- St. Michael libero Reide Wallace, left, hits the ball over the net as Molly Smith watches against Lutcher on Tuesday at St. Michael.

If there was such a thing as Motto Monday, no one would blame Baton Rouge’s volleyball playoff contingent if they adopted the obvious slogan — “A Win and We’re in.”

Episcopal coach Briget Melancon is one who says not so fast.

The seventh-seeded Knights (26-10) host No. 10 De La Salle (22-19) on Monday with a Division IV berth in the LHSAA’s Allstate Sugar Bowl state volleyball tournament on the line. The annual tourney starts Thursday in Kenner, but taking it one step at a time is the only thing the coaches want their teams focused on.

“Making it to the Pontchartrain Center is not something we’re talking about,” Melancon said. “It would be a huge accomplishment.

“We’ve spent a lot of time concentrating on ourselves and making sure we do everything we can to play our best. We’re not looking past Monday or De La Salle.”

Second-seeded Lutcher (31-6), third-seeded St. Joseph’s Academy (28-11) in Division I and two fourth-seeded teams, Central (33-6) in Division II and Ascension Catholic (29-10) in Division V, are part of the intriguing local mix of playoff teams remaining.

ACHS hosts district rival No. 13 St. John at 5:30 p.m. Monday. It is the only all-local matchup.

Many of the matchups include teams that have met each other several times through the years. For example, St. Joseph’s hosts No. 14 Fontainebleau (23-19) at 5:30 p.m. Another Division I contest sends No. 15 Baton Rouge High (24-13) to play second-seeded Mandeville (33-6) at 6 p.m.

The group with the greatest possibilities may be the Division III teams. In addition to Lutcher, which hosts Lusher Charter (13-14), sixth-seeded St. Michael the Archangel hosts No. 11 E.D. White at 6:30 p.m. Eighth-seeded Parkview Baptist hosts No. 9 Iota at 5:30 p.m. Also, No. 17 Brusly travels to top-seeded Teurlings Catholic.

“With the exception of a couple of teams, (Lafayette’s) St. Thomas More (40-1 in Division II) and (Slidell’s) Pope John Paul II (36-2 in Division IV), you can see most of the teams have been up and down,” St. Michael coach Rob Smith said.”So I don’t think there are any givens.

“This is our first year in Division III in several years, so there are different teams to know and look at. I think it’s very balanced and everyone left is good. E.D. White is a team that has won state titles before. They have the expectation of winning. Their fans travel well, and we’re expecting a great atmosphere and match.”

It has already been a precedent-setting year for Baton Rouge High. The Bulldogs advanced past the initial playoff round for the first time in about a decade. And with a young squad, you could say the future is bright. That’s not the message BRHS coach Dayna Kohn has for her team.

“We have this one chance for this team,” Kohn said. “You don’t want to miss this moment because you’re looking ahead.”