St. Michael the Archangel got strong performances from their upperclass leaders and solid contributions from their supporting cast of freshmen and sophomores to collect a 3-1 win over East Jefferson in the first round of the Division II, Class 4A volleyball playoffs on Tuesday night.
Senior Chandler Bourgeois led the Lady Warriors with 13 kills, while junior setter Alexis Gaudet registered a sterling all-around game with 29 assists, 10 digs and 9 kills.
“Alexis did a really good job of spreading the ball around and keeping all our hitters involved,” St. Michael coach Rob Smith said. “In the last (fourth) game, we had an opportunity to finish, and I told the girls we didn’t want to go to a fifth game. We’ve been in a few of those this year, and you never know what might happen.”
St. Michael (17-16) got off to a good start in the first set, winning 25-18 and never trailing after they went up 2-1 on a kill by Kayleigh Sticker.
Bourgeois had five kills in the set, and the Warriors capitalized on six service faults by the visitors.
The second set was a totally different story as East Jefferson (14-10) shot out to an 8-4 lead, mostly on balls St. Michael hit into the net or outside the lines.
They rallied back to within 15-13, but East Jeff’s Warriors won four crucial points, led by Brittany Hicks’ two kills and some stellar defensive plays by sophomore setter Brittany Hastings, and the visitors claimed the set 25-18.
“In the first set, we were just way too inconsistent,” East Jefferson coach Kimberly Ayo said. “That has been a problem for us all year. Our serving let us down, too.
“In the second set, we started to get some confidence and consistency, but we hurt ourselves with our passing in the last two sets,” she said.
Bourgeois led St. Michael to a 5-2 to lead in the third set with two kills and two aces, but East Jeff came back to tie the set at 7-7.
At that point, the Warriors ripped off 10 unanswered points, with five of them coming on service aces by sophomore Annabelle Harter.
They closed out the set at 25-10 with another 6-point run behind kills by sophomores Sticker and Kasey Fraser.
St. Michael opened the fourth set with scoring from five different players as they took a 7-2 lead.
Bourgeois had two kills and freshman Madeline Gremillion added another two.
Gremillion was playing in the spot normally filled by her sister, senior Michelle Gremillion, who is out with shoulder injury.
After East Jeff came within 13-11, St. Michael took control behind the net play of Bourgeois and Gaudet to win the set 25-17.
Smith downplayed the importance of the youth of his team.
“We have two seniors out with injuries,” he said, “but at this time of the season, you forget about that and just focus on the task at hand.
“We lost our focus in the second set and got comfortable. I think they (East Jefferson) got our attention then, and we were able to refocus and win 25-10 (in the third set.)”
Harter finished with six aces and Fraser had five blocks to round out the Warriors’ statistical leaders.
For East Jefferson, Haley Post and Brittany Scott had five kills apiece, and Hastings recorded 17 assists.