St. Joseph’s Academy swept New Iberia Senior High School 3-0 in Division I bidistrict volleyball playoff action Tuesday at St. Joseph's.
Led by sophomore Erin Beene’s seven kills and seven blocks, No. 4 SJA defeated No. 27 New Iberia 25-16, 25-14 and 25-19.
New Iberia (19-17) improved its record from seven wins in 2017 to 19 wins under first-year coach Sara Robichaux and the Yellowjackets returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
“My girls did the work and really improved a lot this season,” said Robichaux, a former-UL-Lafayette standout. “It’s good to get the program back to where it should be. St. Joseph’s has a great program and volleyball culture. We knew it would be tough playing here.”
SJA (24-14) advances to a regional home match later this week against the Destrehan vs. No. 13 Acadiana winner. The Redstickers were the Division I runnerup the past two seasons.
SJA coach Sivi Miller said her team still hasn’t played its best volleyball.
“A win is a win, but we didn’t play up to our potential,” Miller said. “We want them to play without so many unforced errors. The girls have definitely worked hard. We’ve just got to get it all together and continue pushing forward.”
SJA senior setter Julia Welsh directed the offense with 11 assists. She spread the ball around to Beene, Caroline Starns, Josie Musso and other players.
“We’re still climbing the mountain and working to get better,” said Welsh, a second-year starter. “We’re on the road to uphill. We had a rough start in the first set and then worked some things out. We stayed focused and won some long rallies.”
Welsh said she has a special connection with Starns as both play club ball together.
“It’s nice to have a player who wants the ball as much as Caroline Starns does,” Welsh said. “I try to give it to her as much as possible. The back row was able to get the ball to me inside the 10-foot line and we were able to run good offense.”
NISH got a kill from Trah-Nea St. Julien to cut the SJA lead to 17-14 in the first set. With Liz Fruge serving, SJA went on a 5-0 run. Starns had a key block and point in that run. Welsh had the winning point.
SJA took a 20-10 lead in the second set on a Starns kill.
SJA jumped to an 11-6 lead in the third set. The Jackets went on a 9-5 run to cut the deficit to 17-15. SJA scored the last two points on a Beene power shot and an ace by Grace Toler.
St. Julien had nine kills and three blocks. McKenzie Meyers added 15 assists for NISH. Merasia Boudreaux had 11 digs.
Katie Polson added eight assists and seven digs for SJA. Simone Moreau had eight digs.