Port Allen’s best shot at defeating defending Division IV, District 3 champion University High came and went Wednesday night at the Cubs' gymnasium.
Bailey Grimes had 10 kills and Elise Doomes added seven as U-High extended its winning streak in district play to 20 matches. Port Allen struggled with its passing, and fell 3-0 by scores of 25-10, 25-19 and 25-13.
With teams playing only once in district play this season, U-High (17-5, 3-0) and Port Allen (17-10, 2-1) won’t meet again in the regular season.
“You get one chance to get it right,” U-High coach Bonita Johnson said of the schools’ lone meeting. “You can go to sleep if you want, but when you wake up it's going to be over so you have to be ready to play.”
Grimes added five digs and a block while Cathryn Coulter contributed five kills and 16 assists.
Port Allen was topped by Amber Murphy, who had four kills, an ace and a block. Kennedy Williams added two kills and two blocks, but the Pelicans struggled to find an offensive rhythm for most of the match.
“This was a very intense match,” Port Allen coach Tara Hollins said. “U-High came out with their guns from the start. Our passing control was not where it needed to be, and we fed (U-High) a couple of times to punish us with a few kills.
“We made a lot of unforced errors.”
An example of Port Allen’s troubles came early in the third game. Leading 5-1, U-High ran off six points on Doomes’ serve. Two of the points came when the Pelicans shanked Doomes’ serves, and three others came on quick kills after the Cubs took advantage of free balls from Port Allen’s return of serve.
U-High extended its lead to 16-6, and then 22-10 on a tip kill by Doomes. The Cubs closed out the match with their final two points coming on Port Allen hitting errors.
“They were giving us an opportunity to run our offense,” Johnson said. “That’s always a plus when you get free balls.”
In the first game, U-High raced out to a 21-6 lead. Doomes and Colleen Temple then had kills as the Cubs finished off the game, 25-10.
Port Allen led 6-3 in game two, and was within 17-16 after rallying from a five-point deficit. The Cubs surged out to a 22-17 lead, and used a familiar formula to win the game. Temple accounted for the last two points with a spike off of a Port Allen block, and a kill set up by Coulter’s quick set.
“I think we kept our energy up,” Doomes said. “I think we’ve improved a lot in the last two games as far as our attitude and our overall play.”