Archbishop Hannan’s volleyball team has played impressively this season.
But Saturday, in the championship match of their Hannan Fall Classic Volleyball Tournament, the Hawks soared to new heights.
The match was stretched to three sets, but Hannan defeated Ursuline 25-15, 23-25, 15-10. Both teams are listed in the New Orleans Advocate’s Small School rankings.
The victory completed a 6-0 run in the tournament for Hannan (21-4). The Hawks defeated McGehee in the semifinals, and also scored victories over Parkview Baptist, University Lab, Slidell, and Ponchatoula in pool play. They had not lost a set in the 14-team event until Ursuline forced them into a third set in the final.
Ursuline (22-5) reached the final with wins over St. Martin’s, Fontainebleau, Northlake Christian, Central Catholic and Mandeville (which is the New Orleans Advocate’s Sweet 16 top-ranked Large Schools team, and also the top-ranked team in Division I according to the LHSAA).
Hailey Cabeceiras, a sophomore outside hitter for Hannan, led the way against Ursuline with 14 kills and six digs. Team defense and ball control also were hallmarks of the victory.
“Defense is key in this sport and we definitely had it (Saturday),” Cabeceiras said. “This was a really good win for us, especially with the teams we had in the tournament. This is setting us up strong for district, and it’s really great to be prepared.”
The Hawks stormed to an 8-1 to lead in the first set before Ursuline could find any rhythm at all. Tatum Ballard won her first five service attempts, but the Lions eventually were able to nip into the lead midway through the first set.
They never could get closer than five points, however, and Hannan took the first set on an Ursuline block attempt that went out of bounds, followed by a service winner from Mikayla Boyer.
The second set was knotted at 7, but Danielle Ledet won three straight points on serve to give Hannan a 10-7 lead. Ursuline coach Jay Jay Juan called a timeout, but it didn’t stymie the Hawks’ momentum. They continued to fire solid balls into the heart of the Lions’ defense, and were able to return almost every ball Ursuline hit its way.
But the Lions hung in to tie the match at 17 and again at 23. Hannan missed a kill attempt and was called for a lifting violation that sent play into the third set.
Hannan clamped down in the third, with back-row play leading the way. Ursuline had two kill miscues at the net that allowed the Hawks to close the match.
“We just have to talk defense, and communicate out there,” Hannan defensive specialist Danielle Loup said. “If we don’t, we can’t win. But if we do, we have it down pat.”
Katherine Meiklejohn led Ursuline with 10 kills. Lauren Bagneris had 13 assists. Macie Grubbs and Rhonda Wilson combined for 38 digs for the Lions.