It’s been said that repeating as a champion is harder than defeating a champion.
If that’s the case, then consider this year’s Teurlings Catholic volleyball team that much more impressive.
The Rebels, last year’s Division III champ, won the 2014 title in impressive fashion Saturday afternoon at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.
Teurlings, the bracket’s No. 1 seed, scratched its way to a 26-24, 25-19, 25-22 victory over second-seeded Ursuline in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Division III tournament. The Rebels stormed to a two-set lead and didn’t look back while clinching their second consecutive title. Teurlings didn’t lose a set in five playoff matches this season.
Teurlings finished its championship season at 36-9. Ursuline, which won has won three state titles since 2009, fell to 37-12.
Teurlings coach Terry Hebert said his team felt comfortable inside the raucous Pontchartrain Center on Saturday, especially given his team’s experience from last season.
“We kept saying the last three days we were nervous, because we weren’t nervous,” Hebert said. “One of our assistant coaches kept saying ‘What was the word?’ Was it ‘confidence?’ No. We were just comfortable. What (we did last year) playing all the way through Saturday, it instilled a level of confidence. We kept saying we were at home. There definitely was a little less pressure on this group.”
Tournament MVP Madison Proctor, a senior, said she felt the need to take charge against Ursuline.
“I knew I had to step up, especially for our younger players who were looking at me,” she said. “I talked to all the seniors and let them know that we had to be the rock for them, because this is a big stage.”
The Rebels seemed comfortable in the limelight. They jumped to a 5-0 lead in the first set behind a dink, a kill and a service winner by Proctor. An unforced error and a kill by Mackenzie Marze helped expand the lead.
But Ursuline wasn’t to be outdone, mounting a rally that ended with a block by Brianna McKay to close the score to 5-4. But Teurlings regained its focus and pulled ahead to a 9-5 lead. The remainder of the pace-setting first set saw numerous momentum changes, with Teurlings finally taking charge and getting the set in hand. After a 24-all tie, Marze pounded a kill and Bailey Broussard followed with an ace to end the set.
Teurlings continued the surge in the second set, going ahead 7-6 before forcing Ursuline to call a timeout. The teams were tied at 12 before the Rebels got kills from Proctor and Marze to begin Teurlings’ surge. The Rebels went ahead 22-16 and, after trading several points with the Lions, finally ended the set on a pair of kills and a tip by Proctor.
Down two sets, Ursuline kept things close and forced a tie score at 16. But Teurlings came back with a dink and an ace on Kynnedie Maloz’s serve to take the lead for good.
Proctor led the Rebels with 13 kills, and Alyssa Breaux and Marze added seven apiece. Chloe Hamilton and Breaux teamed for 32 assists and Maloz added 11 digs.
McKay led Ursuline with 15 kills and Katherine Meiklejohn had eight kills. Lauren Bagneris led the Lions with 16 assists, and Macie Grubbs dug 30 balls. Rhonda Wilson added 12 digs for Ursuline.