The matches won’t count on this season’s ledger, but there was no denying their importance Thursday night at the Team Sportsplex. Ascension Catholic’s volleyball squad won a pair of matches to claim the District 3, Division 5 championship breaking a three-way tie in the process.
Rae’Shaun Malancon had 10 kills, and Michayla Spano had 12 assists to lead the Bulldogs to a 2-0 win over Catholic High-Pointe Coupee in the championship match. Ascension Catholic began the evening with a 2-1 win over St. John.
Ascension Catholic was topped by Kaileigh White’s three kills, six digs and four aces. Masyn Cameron and Maggie Lambert each had two kills. Cameron also had eight assists.
Catholic High-PC (16-16), St. John (28-9) and Ascension Catholic (18-16) all finished the regular season tied atop the district standings with 6-2 records. After a bit of scrambling that included a change to the district by-laws, a two-match playoff was agreed upon. A coin flip was used to determine that Ascension Catholic and St. John would play for the right to meet Catholic-PC for the title. Both matches were best two of three.
“We came in the door, and we were not walking out without those wins tonight,” Ascension Catholic coach Chandra Ewen said. “That’s how we played tonight. Even through our mental lapses we played to win.”
The final match was a vindication for Ascension Catholic, which had a chance to claim the district title Tuesday evening. Instead, the Bulldogs lost 3-2 to Catholic-PC on their home floor.
Ascension Catholic quickly moved out to a 6-1 lead in the title match. The Hornets had four hitting errors during that stretch before they began working their way into the game.
White’s kill got CPC to within 8-6, and it cut the margin to two again at 13-11 on Cameron’s ace. Brynne Babin’s kill had CPC as close as 16-13, but Ascension Catholic began to pull away.
The Bulldogs scored seven of the next eight points, and, after a brief Hornets’ rally closed out a 25-17 win when Babin hit into the net.
Ascension Catholic won game two by the same score, 25-17, and led 17-5 before CPC began to fight back. The opening surge was fueled by Malancon, who had four kills and a block.
Catholic-PC got within 19-13, but was never able to get closer. Malancon’s kill closed out the win for the Bulldogs.
“Ascension Catholic came out and played hard from the start to the end,” CPC coach Renee Green said. “I think we started out a little slow. We didn’t answer and made a lot of mistakes. That happens sometimes.”
Ascension Catholic used three games to dispatch St. John in the opening match by scores of 25-19, 15-25 and 15-10. St. John led the third game 6-2, but the Bulldogs forced a 6-6 tie before pulling away for the win.
“In the third game it came down to us playing with the lead,” St. John coach Chase Mancuso said. “Its been a problem for us all year; not being able to finish when you’ve got to finish the game.”
St. John set the tempo in game two to force a deciding game after Ascension Catholic had ridden an early lead to the win in game one. It was a precursor to a title-winning effort in the nightcap.
“I think I was more worried about it than (our girls) were,” Ewen said. “They wanted it. I think it came down to that, and I think they deserved it.”