Volleyball is a sport that requires on-the-court vision and skill.
Top-seeded St. Joseph’s Academy displayed both while sweeping Division I, District 2 rival Zachary High 3-0 Monday night in Division I regional-round playoff action at SJA.
The defending Division I state champion Redstickers won 25-4, 25-13, 25-7 and advance to the Allstate Sugar Bowl/Louisiana High School Athletic Association State Volleyball Tournament that begins Thursday at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center. St. Joseph’s meets No. 9 Chapelle in quarterfinal action at 6:10 p.m. Thursday.
“We talked about shots and plays before we played,” SJA’s Sydney Davis said. “We talked about their offense and where we should hit the ball. When you’re getting ready to hit, you can see the open spots and you aim for them.”
Davis and Madison Daigle each had nine kills for SJA (42-2). Hanna Rovira added eight kills. Dreona Clayton had eight digs for 17th-seeded Zachary (17-14).
“I found that we were a little tight, which was shocking because we’ve played them twice already,” Zachary coach Madeline Blanchard-Gugich said. “At the end of the day, it’s a good thing to be able to play one of the best teams around. It can only make you better. Just like we’ve gotten better during the season, so have they.”
The combination of their unforced errors and the power of St. Joseph’s hitters put the Broncos behind in the first set. By the time SJA made its first hitting error, the Redstickers had a 16-4 lead.
Daigle and Davis each had two kills to help close out the set which ended with Zachary being called for a net violation, making it 25-4.
Zachary kept it close at the start of the second set. SJA put together an 8-2 to pull away. The Redstickers had plenty of hard-hitting swings that hit the floor in resounding fashion. Just as crucial was SJA’s ability to tip the ball over and place the ball in closer to the net.
“I thought we were able to run a good offense and make it fast,” Rovira said. “A huge part of the game is placing the ball. We work on that and tonight did it well.”
Davis dumped a couple of soft shots in front of Zachary defenders who had moved back in anticipation of a longer, harder shot in the second set the Redstickers won 25-13.
Rovira and Melissa Currier collected kills to jump start St. Joseph’s in the third set. The serving of Katherine Young, who had five aces, also was crucial as the Redstickers built a 10-3 lead that set up a 25-7 win.
“I do believe that my team came out and really controlled the match and played well,” St. Joseph’s coach Sivi Miller said. “We ran a quick offense and were able to limit the amount of errors we made. We’ve been working and talking about being consistent and being in control of what we do on our side of the net. This is the way you want to finish your last home game.”