KENNER – Different division?
No problem for Notre Dame of Crowley, which won a title in Division III last year and won another Saturday afternoon in Division IV in the LHSAA State Volleyball Tournament. It marked the third title in five years for Notre Dame, which dismantled De La Salle in the final, 25-17, 25-22, 25-17.
It was a tough night for defending Division II champ St. Thomas More of Lafayette, which fell to Cabrini, 25-22, 25-21, 27-29, 25-20.
Other champions crowned in the Pontchartain Center included Fontainebleau in Division I, Cabrini in Division II, and Metairie Park Country Day in Division V.
Top-seeded Notre Dame (35-11) was led by senior middle Alaina Savoy, who had 13 kills and two blocks.
In the second set, second-seeded De La Salle (36-6), making the school’s first appearance in a championship final, led 20-14 before falling completely apart.
“I knew we could pull it out if we just came together as a team and focused,” Savoy said. And whatever coach Tara Young said in a timeout worked, because Notre Dame went on a run that continued through the end of the match.
“When we went ahead 22-21, I knew it was done,” Young said.
Young, whose program won it all for the first time in 2007, lost in the semifinals in 2008, lost in the final in 2009 and beat Ursuline Academy in last year’s Division III championship match, credited a tough schedule for her girls’ resilience. They survived a rough late September and still grabbed the top seed despite so many defeats, most to teams from larger divisions.
“Experience helps us. Having been here helps,” Young said.
Seniors like Young, libero Mallory Chaisson, who had 21 digs, and outside hitter Alison Leonards, who had eight kills, “have been here since they were sophomores. That’s an advantage. That’s a different venue out there on that center court.”
STM (36-7) led 24-21 in the third set but then struggled and found itself trailing 25-24. It faced two more match points before forcing a fourth game that Cabrini (37-6) took to claim its first title since 2008 and fourth overall.
“It was a great match. We played hard. Cabrini played better and made less mistakes,” STM second-year coach Jessica Burke said.
STM senior Shellie Landry, most outstanding player of the 2010 final, had another strong tournament capped by a 25-kill performance Saturday.
“We just beat ourselves with our errors,” Landry said.
The Louisiana-Lafayette softball signee also had 18 digs.
“She’s tremendous. She has been from the beginning and I’m going to miss her a lot,” Burke said. “The program is going to miss her a lot.”
The Division V final had an all-too-familiar look for second-seeded Episcopal of Acadiana, as it lost to top-seeded Metairie Park Country Day (37-8) for the third consecutive year, 26-24, 25-10, 25-17.
ESA (38-8) was trying to win its first title since 2006. Second-year coach Julie Dawson knew the tough first-set loss was going to be hard to overcome, especially after being down 11-1 and coming back to make a game of it.
“After that it was an emotional low after an emotional high and it was really hard to regroup,” Dawson said. “The girls played well but we had a difficult time starting off strong and eventually that will come back to bite you.”
Sophomore Carla Dibbs had eight kills and 16 digs, while sophomore teammate Elasha Williams had nine kills and a couple of aces. ESA’s future is bright: It has only two seniors, back-row players Kinsley Poppa and libero Olivia Bramlett, who had 19 digs.
In Division III, top-seeded Ursuline Academy of New Orleans swept No. 3 seed St. Louis of Lake Charles, 25-15, 28-26, 25-21, rallying late to take the second set.
Ursuline (39-4) won its second title in three years under coach Jay Jay Juan. Juan also won three championships at Mount Carmel and was an assistant to Donna Pixley when Dunham won the title in 2005 when Mount Carmel was shut down because of Hurricane Katrina. St. Louis, trying to win its first title since 2006, finished the season 32-8.
In the last match, Fontainebleau (44-1) defeated defending-champion Mount Carmel (37-8), 25-21, 25-13, 18-25, 25-12.
In doing so, Fontainebleau also exacted a measure of revenge for its only loss this season, a 2-1 defeat in the Dominican tournament.