Baton Rouge High’s first appearance in the LHSAA volleyball playoffs in many years got off to a successful start. The Bulldogs took a 3-0 win over Ruston in a Division I bidistrict contest played Thursday night at BRHS.

Senior Sameera Mohamed propelled her young teammates over some rough spots in all three sets, and they won by scores of 25-15, 25-15 and 25-14. BRHS (24-13), seeded 15th, travels to play second-seeded Mandeville (33-6) in Monday’s regional round.

Ruston (21-3), the No. 18 seed, made the first volleyball playoff appearance by a Lincoln Parish school.

The first two sets followed the same pattern. Both were close through the early going before Baton Rouge High took a comfortable lead, only to see the visitors come back to narrow the margin.

BRHS coach Dayna Kohn was happy to see her team turn around a negative trend in its season.

“You can see in our schedule how many times we’ve got to 23 and lost, or 22 and lost,” Kohn said. “We get to these points in a game where we’re not able to finish.

“Sometimes we’ve got five players on the court who haven’t played varsity at this level, but we’re finally figuring out how to keep the momentum and finish the game. I’m proud of them. They actually showed up to play a whole match.”

Mohamed served the Bulldogs on a 6-0 run in the first set after Ruston had scored four straight to pull within three at 14-11.

She picked up two more service aces in the third set, and finished the night with three aces, four kills, 25 assists and 14 digs.

“I’m happy that we were able to come back when we were down a little and to overcome that mental obstacle,” Mohamed said. “Even though they (her teammates) are young, I’m proud of where they are. I thought the team played great tonight, and I’m glad we got the win.”

BRHS had a solid match from sophomores Zahria Sims (eight kills, seven digs and five aces), Tayler Strickland (eight kills, seven digs) and Raegan Rozas (12 digs, two assists). Junior Loren James contributed eight kills.

James also finished off the second and third sets with service aces for the 25th point.

Despite the loss, Ruston coach Amanda Cauley saw her team’s playoff appearance as another accomplishment in a stellar season. The Bearcats ended the season with a 21-3 record and a Division I, District 1 title.

“This is our first year of LHSAA varsity competition, and for our budding program to be ranked where we were and make it this far — we’re just happy to be here,” Cauley said. “You never like to lose, but when you have girls who accomplished so much and exceeded expectations, I’m walking out of here with my head held high.”

Sophomore Reagan Lee led Ruston with six kills and two blocks. Reanne Ginn was their defensive leader with 20 digs.