It was a hugely successful first round of the state volleyball playoffs for parish teams in the top three classifications as Mandeville, Fontainebleau, Slidell, Lakeshore and St. Scholastica all took home opening-round playoff victories.
Slidell High pulled off the biggest upset in the parish -- and in all of Division I -- on Oct. 31 when the No. 23 Tigers went on the road and upset No. 10 Ruston in three games 25-17, 25-21 and 25-17 behind 14 kills from senior outside hitter McKenzie Fugate.
In a district rematch, the Fontainebleau Bulldogs defeated Northshore in three games 25-17, 26-24 and 28-26 at home on Nov. 1.
Emily Matthews led the way for the Bulldogs with 16 kills, and Katherine Carroll had nine. Stephanie Schurr led the defensive effort for the Bulldogs with 13 digs, and Chloe Chaix had 11.
“This win happened because of an entire year’s worth of practices and just commitment to helping this team win,” Carroll said. “We all worked our butts off to get this far, and our goal is to continue to keep playing. We all know that things are only going to get harder the deeper we hopefully make it in this bracket.”
Caroline Vollenweider led the way for the Panthers with 10 kills and 12 digs. Rachel Rodriguez also had a solid game with 15 digs.
Fontainebleau dominated the opening game, racing out to a quick 16-9 advantage. Northshore got as close as 18-15 before the Bulldogs reeled off four consecutive points to take a 22-15 lead on its way to the 1-0 advantage in the match.
It was another comeback victory in game three for Fontainebleau, as Northshore held a big 7-1 lead early in the deciding game. The first tie came at 17-17, and seven more would come before Fontainebleau finally broke through with back-to-back points to win the third game and advance.
Across town, No. 5 Mandeville recovered from losing the first game to No. 28 Denham Springs on Nov. 1, beating the Yellow Jackets in four, 20-25, 25-15, 25-23, 25-13.
Taylor Pierce led the way with a double-double for the Skippers with 14 kills, 15 digs and a pair of blocks. Gabby Oos had a team-high 15 kills, and sophomore setter Ashlynn Anderson paced the offensive attack with 47 assists.
“After we lost the first set, we knew we had to clean up the simple mistakes,” Sadie Gomez said. “They were giving us so many free balls that we should have taken advantage of but didn’t. We knew that with our height advantage, our offense would pull us through for the win.”
A pair of easy sweeps on Nov. 1 highlighted two wins in Division II as Lakeshore and St. Scholastica advanced. The No. 13 Titans blew past No. 20 Helen Cox 25-16, 25-13, 25-12 in Mandeville and the Doves defeated District 5-II rival Salmen at home 25-10, 25-6 and 25-22.
The lone loss in the top three classifications for parish squads was Pearl River in Division II. The No. 16 Rebels dropped a four-game match on Oct. 31 to No. 17 Berwick at home, 25-19, 20-25, 16-25 and 17-25.
Kayla Andrew led the way for the Rebels with 13 kills and five blocks. Koryn Segrave had 16 assists, and Jocelyn Rivarde had a team-high 27 digs.
“The last four years have really been a happy experience for me,” Segrave said. “I learned a lot from my coaches and connected with all my teammates. After our summer camp at LSU, we all had an attitude adjustment that made us into a better team and a closer-knit group. It is definitely an experience I will never forget.”
Dave Woodall contributed to this report.