St. John of Plaquemine had made it to the Pontchartrain Center season each of the past three seasons.
All three times, they exited after the first day.
On Thursday, St. John finally got over the hump, topping First Baptist Christian 3-0 in the Division V quarterfinals of the LHSAAA state tournament in Kenner.
“I felt like our experience really carried us,” St. John coach Chase Mancuso said. “Our senior group has been here every year since they were freshman, and that played a big factor today. The last few years we came in here a little intimidated and got down early. This game we got ahead and pushed through. I think the experience helped.”
St. John won 25-13, 25-17, 25-14 to improve to 32-9.
They will play top-seed Country Day at 10 a.m. Friday.
Claire Pearce had 41 assists to lead St. John. Teammates Alex Carbo and Carlee Smith had 17 digs each and Payton Passantino had 19 kills.
“We have players who just like to make big plays,” Mancuso said. “They performed well today.”
St. John now plays a Country Day team going for its sixth straight title.
“We haven’t played them since my first year here six years ago,” Mancuso said. “We know they are going to be good. They have won five straight. But we are going to step up. They have teenage girls just like us. So we just have to play our game and compete. We are going to give it all we got.”
Jackie Fredericks’ 16 kills led First Baptist Christian (18-10). Lauren Thirstrup had 26 assists.
Sacred Heart Grand Coteau 3, Dunham 2: One of Sacred Heart’s top players, Hailey Gauthier, went down with an ankle injury in the first set, but it didn’t stop the Saints from advancing.
Sacred Heart overcame the adversity and pulled out a thrilling 5-set victory (25-23, 19-25, 25-13, 17-25, 15-13)..
“It was a tough day, but we got it done,” Sacred Heart coach Megan McCowan said. “We had to put in a different lineup without Hailey, but they kept battling.”
The teams alternated wins during the first four sets before Sacred Heart finally claimed the final set.
“We haven’t gone five games all season, so to go five games and win like that without one of our key players feels great,” said McCowan.
Sacred Heart (28-11), the 3 seed, advances to Friday’s 10 a.m. semifinal to play rival Ascension Episcopal,the No. 2 seed.
Ascension won the first meeting early in the regular season.
Kathleen Boulet led Sacred Heart with 22 kills and Maci Quebedeaux had 37 assists.
Jennifer Link and Jennifer Muldowney had eight digs each.
Dunham (18-21) was led by Anna Catherine Padgett, who had 30 kills.
Alyssa Deason and Hannah Pixley had 28 and 29 assists, respectively, while Caroline Stafford had 15 digs.
Country Day 3, Catholic Pointe Coupee 0: Country Day’s bid for a sixth straight title got off to a good start with a 25-16, 25-13, 25-16 victory over Catholic Pointe Coupee.
The top-seeded Cajuns (38-6) advance to Friday’s 10 a.m. semifinal to play St. John.
Sarah Elliot finished with 17 digs and Claire Roy had 11 digs.
Masyn Cameron had 12 assists for the Hornets.
Simone Becnel had 10 kills and 10 digs for the Cajuns, who will play St. John in the semifinals on Friday at 10 a.m.
Caroline Perlis also had 10 kills and Jenna Ibieta, the coach’s daughter, finished with 31 assists and 10 digs.
Maddie Leger led in digs with 15.
Ascension Episcopal 3, Central Catholic 0: The Blue Gators swept the match 25-16, 25-14, 28-26 to advance to the semifinals to play Sacred Heart Grand Coteau.
Mary Catherine Franques had 20 digs and Sydney Vidrine had 22 assists for an Ascension team that lost three key seniors from its 2013 squad.
“Our team was a question mark this year,” Ascension Episcopal coach Jill Braun said. “But they have shown great chemistry and jelled really well.”
Braun’s team plays Sacred Heart for the second time this season after winning earlier in the year against its rival.
Quincee Wiggins’s 14 kills led the Eagles (21-21).