University High’s performance was relaxed and solid, if not sparkling, as the Lady Cubs won a three-set match over Episcopal in the regional round of the LHSAA Division III volleyball playoffs at U-High on Monday.
They were never seriously threatened as they won the sets 25-12, 25-17 and 25-13. With the win they will advance to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs at the Ponchartrain Center in Kenner on Thursday.
“I think the girls were pretty calm and confident tonight,” U-High coach Bonita Johnson said. “Usually when we play Episcopal it’s all about the emotion and our emotions are everywhere. This time we just tried to stay calm and focus on playing our opponent.”
The first set started out with back and forth scoring as Episcopal’s team leaders Charlotte Russell, Erika Grant and Courtney Gregoire all registered kills to keep the Lady Knights close, but they could not score on serve until they were down 16-10.
U-High (34-6) used an 8-2 run to finish out the set.
“We’re very young,” Episcopal coach Briget Melancon said. “Our entire offense is freshmen and sophomores, and they haven’t experienced pressure like this at a fast pace before. It’s growing pains.”
The Cubs kept up the pressure in second set, scoring the first six points and stretching the lead to 21-9 before Episcopal went on an 8-2 run, playing its best volleyball of the night. U-High starting making the same mistakes that had plagued the Knights, Episcopal (15-18) closed the gap to 23-17 before the Cubs called timeout to regroup and came back with a kill by senior Lauren Haliburton and a net ball by the Knights to close out the set.
The third set started out ragged with the teams combining for four service faults and three net violations over the span of the first 13 points with U-High scoring the only offensive point on a kill by Lindsay Flory.
With the score 7-6, Presley Stoltzfus served two aces between kills by Haliburton and Flory as the Cubs went ahead by five, and they pulled away from there to take the third set 25-13.
“We didn’t play the game we wanted to play and everyone wasn’t on today,” Melancon said, “but we’ve improved an awful lot in a very short time. I’m proud of how far they’ve come, I’m proud of their season and I’m proud of every one of them.”
The Cubs showed impressive depth and balance in the win, and Johnson especially applauded their defensive effort.
“I thought the back row did a good job of getting the ball to our setters, and they gave our hitters an opportunity to hit,” she said. “And Presley Stoltzfus did a great job of serving and bringing us back (in the third set).”
Stoltzfus was one of three Cubs, along with Haliburton and Marygrace Constantin, who finished with three service aces. Haliburton also had five kills and four digs. Terriel Ross led U-High with six kills, while Flory finished with five kills and 11 assists.
Russell collected 12 assists and 15 digs for the Lady Knights, while Grant and Gregoire had four kills and four digs apiece.