A myriad of obstacles threatened to derail St. Amant’s streak of seven straight trips to the LHSAA's volleyball tournament.
Senior outside hitter Baylee Rambin said the team’s steely resolve enabled the Gators to persevere Saturday against a determined arch-rival.
Rambin helped No. 14 St. Amant complete a 3-0 sweep over third-seeded East Ascension, snapping a 23-all tie in the third game with three consecutive kills for a 25-23 victory to send the Gators back to the Ponchartrain Center for Division I portion of the LHSAA tourney for an eighth straight year.
“This team is (mentally) strong,” Rambin said. “I believe in them.”
St. Amant (22-18) faces 11th-seeded Archbishop Chapelle in Thursday’s quarterfinal. Chapelle eliminated the other Ascension Parish team, Dutchtown, 3-0 on Saturday.
The two Division I District 4 rivals split two league games, with St. Amant kick-starting a 12-5 run over the last month of the season with a 3-1 victory over East Ascension.
“Our season really didn’t start until about three to four weeks ago,” St. Amant coach Allison Didier Leake said. “It’s been a crazy season, but I’m so proud of them to play like that and keep fighting.”
East Ascension (30-11), bidding for its first state tournament since 2013, exhibited similar qualities in rebounding from a 25-14 first-game setback.
The Lady Spartans took their first lead of the match, 5-4, in the second game and extended that to 12-7.
Diamond Jones delivered seven of her team-high 14 kills and a pair of blocks during that game that went back and forth with nine lead changes and eight ties.
With Alexa Medine serving, the Gators scored the final two points to break a 23-23 tie.
EA coach Jamie Gilmore declined comment afterward.
The Spartans led 7-1 in the final game with Londyn Brown serving and Jones picking up two kills, only to have the Lady Gators send the game into a similar pattern with eight ties, including at 19-all on a kill from Brown.
St. Amant pulled even at 23-23 when Gracie Duplechein produced one of her 19 assists to Rambin.
With Aubrey Dwane serving, Rambin applied the exclamation point to her 11-kill outing, including five in the deciding game, by finishing off of a block and a taking an assist from Duplechein for the game-winner.
“You can’t play soft whenever you’re down,” Rambin said. “You have to remember to never stop playing hard.”