St. Michael the Archangel was trailing Parkview Baptist, 8-5, in the third set.
Warriors coach Robert Smith gathered his team amid the bedlam inside the Pontchartrain Center for the Division III quarterfinals of the LHSAA state volleyball tournament Thursday morning.
“We talked about how three points in this game is not really a whole lot unless it’s right at the end,” Smith recalled. “A side out and three-point run, that happens all the time in this game. I just said, ‘stop and listen to the crowd and look around, enjoy the moment.’
“So instead of us getting tight I think we were able to relax and do what we wanted to do. Whether we won or lost those kids needed to know that all of this whole thing, this environment put on by the LHSAA is something they need to enjoy.”
It became even more enjoyable for St. Michael when it returned from the timeout to score seven consecutive points. But Parkview answered with four straight points to even the match between the Division 6-III rivals at 12.
The second-seeded Warriors scored the final three points as Amber Igiede’s kill finished off a 22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 18-25, 15-12 match that sent them into a semifinal match against third-seeded E.D. White, a straight set winner against sixth-seeded Morgan City, at 11:50 a.m. Friday. The seventh-seeded Eagles finished 21-13.
The other semifinal pairs top-seeded Vandebilt Catholic, which defeated eighth-seeded Ursuline, 25-12, 25-17, 25-11, against fourth-seeded De La Salle, which beat fifth-seeded Westlake, 15-25, 25-19, 25-22, 15-25, 15-11, in the semifinals at 11:50 a.m. Friday.
“I think that’s probably why we won the fifth set,” Igiede said of Smith’s talk. “We just said, 'let’s have fun. It’s possibly our last high school game.' ” We just listened to him, relaxed and enjoyed. We started smiling.”
Moments after the match ended Parkview coach Becky Madden also was smiling, even amid the disappointment . She walked inside a circle of players, high-fiving and hugging her seven seniors.
“I thought that they played extremely well here today,” Madden said. “They had a great season. They’ve been great role models. This year has been very positive year for them. It was emotional. It was just a proud moment, even though we lost. I was proud of the way they stepped up and played.”
Igiede had a game-high 26 kills, Paige Cassano had 40 assists, Lexi Gonzalez 34 digs, Igiede and Gabby Carlos had three aces each and Sarah Martin two blocks.
The match featured several changes in momentum between two familiar opponents. Parkview beat St. Michael in a tournament and St. Michael won both district matches.
“That’s the kind of match I expect with Parkview,” Smith aid. “It’s always a back-and-forth battle. The fight and the shifts in momentum were exactly what I expected.”
After Parkview won the first set, St. Michael settled down, claimed the second set and carried its momentum to the third-set victory.
Madden convened her three senior starters — Korie Peyton, Audrey Greeley and Bailey Lyons — before the start of the fourth set.
“I told them, this is it,” Madden said. “You go out there and you fight until the very end. And they turned that set around.”
Peyton had one of her team-high eight kills as Parkview led for the early part of the fifth set. But St. Michael was ready.
“We said (before the match) – ‘hey, it’s probably not going to be a three-set match. It’s going to be four or probably five,’ ” Smith said. “And I said to them, “prepare for five and maybe it gets done in less than that but if you’re not ready for the fifth set you won’t win it” and fortunately we were able to finish there at the end.”
E.D. White 3, Morgan City 0: Lila Bordis led the Cardinals with 10 kills and 17 digs, Mary Grace Chiasson had 21 assists and Maddie Gros had three aces.
ShaDiamond Holly led the Tigers (27-14) with 10 kills, Haylie Crappell had 17 digs and Jolee Nini 16 assists.
De La Salle 3, Westlake 2: The Cavaliers seniors came through with their careers on the line.
Jewel Johnso led the Cavaliers with 15 kills, nine blocks and two aces, which were matched by Tyza Brister, another senior. Two more seniors were key as Taylor Edwards had 15 digs, and Lainey Robertson had 31 assists.
Jena Johnson led Westlake (30-8) with 23 kills and three blocks, Kenadee Morris and Riley Rhodes had 24 assists each and Rhodes had 14 digs.
Vandebilt Catholic 3, Ursuline 0: Brittany Theriot led the Terriers with 14 assists, Angelle Buquet had 43 assists, Annelise Henry had six digs Madeline Benoit had six aces and Lauren Fitch seven blocks.
Nadia Farley and Kennedy Nicholls had five kills each to lead the Lions, 24-11. Annabel Beatmann had 20 digs and Megan Pulizzano had 11 assists.