Lutcher High’s Ricky LeBlanc talked about football on Sunday, but the message for his volleyball players was crystal clear.
“Everybody was going over what happened in the LSU-Alabama game on Saturday,” LeBlanc said. “So I told them girls there’s only one big difference between us and LSU, and that got their attention.
“You know that difference is? LSU still has another game to play. If we lose, it’s over.”
With that, the second-seeded Bulldogs started one of their final practices for the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Volleyball tournament that begins with quarterfinals on Thursday at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center. Matches start at 9 a.m. to open the three-day tourney.
Lutcher is one of five area teams seeded among the top five. The Bulldogs play No. 7 Vandebilt Catholic (23-15) at 2:30 p.m. Third-seeded St. Joseph’s Academy (29-11) meets No. 6 Chapelle (22-16) at 6:10 p.m.
Ascension Catholic (30-10), seeded fourth in Division V, takes on No. 5 Houma Christian (24-13) at 9 a.m.
Central (37-6), No. 4 in Division II, plays No. 5 Belle Chasse (36-6) at 4:20 p.m. Fifth-seeded St. Amant (27-13) faces No. 4 Barbe (30-10) at 8 p.m. to close out the day.
“I was a little worried when we had the week after the playoff pairings were announced,” St. Amant coach Allison Leake said. “We had an awesome end to our season. They practiced and played (regional win over H.L. Bourgeois) and never missed a beat.”
St. Joseph’s was the only Baton Rouge team to play for a title last season. The Redstickers were the Division I runner-up after winning the title in 2013.
There are goals for all the BR teams, including Central and Ascension Catholic. Both teams are making their first tourney appearances since 2010. Central coach Michele LeBouef’s team made huge strides while advancing to the tourney. Ascension Catholic coach Chandra Ewing is taking everything in stride.
“I’m very pleased with where we are,” Ewing said. “We’re playing a team we beat early in the year and we’ve talked about. Our only concern is tomorrow and playing the best we can.”
ACHS is not the only team facing a rematch. Eighth-seeded Parkview Baptist (24-16) plays top-seeded Teurlings Catholic (29-8) in a Division III tourney rematch at 12:40 p.m. TCHS won the semifinal en route to a state title.
“There’s definitely unfinished business there,” PBS coach Becky Madden said. “Our girls are so excited about getting the chance to play them again. They feel like they have something to prove.”
Ditto that for Catholic-Pointe Coupee coach Renee Green Hebert. CHSPC (21-19) lost to top-seeded Metairie Park Country Day a year ago. This time the Hornets play No. 1 McGehee (39-4) at 10:50 a.m.
“We’ve been this route before,” Hebert said. “I believe the tough schedule has helped prepare us for what we’ll face. We played well in our two playoff games so far and look for that carry over.”
Episcopal (27-10), the No. 7 seed, meets second-seeded Archbishop Hannan (34-7) in Division IV also at 12:40 p.m. The Knights moved up one spot in seeding from a year ago.
“I’m way more concerned and focused on what we do on our side of the net,” Episcopal coach Briget Melancon said. “It’s been like that all season. The girls are excited. They’ll compete regardless.”