There’s no doubt that St. Joseph’s Academy enters the Allstate Sugar Bowl/Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Volleyball Tournament as a high-profile, moving target.
The defending Division I state champion Redstickers (42-2) are seeded No. 1. SJA coach Sivi Miller wants to make sure her team leaves no team overlooked going into the three-day tourney that begins with quarterfinals Thursday at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center.
Catching the Redstickers may be no easy task. Fourth-seeded St. Amant (30-11) of Division I, No. 7 St. Michael the Archangel (25-13) of Division II and another No. 4 seed, Parkview Baptist (30-9) of Division III also want to be in that final number when state champions are crowned Saturday.
“You don’t take anything for granted at this tournament,” Miller said. “I’ve got a group of seniors who are excited about this. We’ve been playing very well. These girls understand that it’s about who plays the best over three days.
“Chapelle has played some good volleyball this season. They’ll be ready to play. It’s about consistency and making sure you bring the same intensity to every set.”
St. Joseph’s faces Chapelle (28-17) in a Division I quarterfinal set for 6:10 p.m. One of the teams in St. Joseph’s path to a possible Division I final rematch with No. 2 Mount Carmel Academy is St. Amant. The Gators (30-11) face No. 12 Fontainebleau in an 8 p.m. quarterfinal, looking to advance to a semifinal rematch with St. Joseph’s.
The Redstickers have a deep lineup led by senior front row players Madison Daigle, Katherine Young, Hanna Rovira, Sydney Davis and Melissa Currier.
St. Amant is led by senior libero Kara Gremillion, setter Kourtney Gremillion and Alli Duplechein, who had 11 kills in regional win over Slidell.
Challenges on the horizon are different for St. Michael and Parkview. SMHS meets No. 2 St. Scholastica (36-6) in its Division II match at 6:10 p.m., while Parkview takes on No. Rayne (34-7) in Division III at 2:30 p.m. SJA seeks its 11th state title; St. Amant made the semifinals for the first time in 2013.
“I think the top eight seeds are all very good and very close,” PBS coach Becky Madden said. “Sometimes you have that one team or may two teams that are head and shoulders above everybody else. I don’t think you have that this year.
“The team that handles that atmosphere with the all noise and is consistent will have the advantage. This group has the experience of being there last year. We need to be on our serve-receive and passing without a doubt.”
Another senior libero, Macey Stock, helps lead the Eagles, along with Cameron Forbes and Skyler Goodwin.
PBS won its only state title 2005.
St. Michael coach Rob Smith also sees Division II as wide open. A tall St. Scholastica lineup will make blocking and defense a must for the Warriors, who seek their first state title.
Madeline Gremillion, who had 14 kills and 22 digs in a regional win over Sam Houston, leads the Warriors, along with Amari Bellard and Whitney Hartmann.
“We’ve got to control the things we can on our side of the net,” Smith said.