It’s a familiar routine for Country Day at the LHSAA state volleyball tournament.
For the past nine years, it was the same for the Cajuns: arrive Thursday, get acclimated to the unique surroundings at the Ponchartrain Center, advance to Friday, then Saturday play for a state championship. They have won the title match in eight of those seasons.
On Thursday, top-seeded Country Day took that familiar first step, advancing easily past Academy of the Sacred Heart in the Division V quarterfinals, 25-9, 25-12, 25-13.
“Our program has been in this spot many times, but some of these kids and this team haven’t,” Cajuns coach Julie Ibieta said. “So you have to prepare like it’s the first time, because it is for a lot of them.”
The Cajuns advanced to face fourth-seeded Lafayette Christian, which defeated fifth-seeded Dunham 25-16, 25-18, 25-20, in the semifinals at 10 a.m. Friday.
The other Division V semifinal features third-seeded Central Catholic, which defeated sixth-seeded Episcopal of Acadiana 25-23, 25-10, 25-22, against second-seeded Ascension Episcopal, which defeated seventh-seeded McGehee 25-23, 25-15, 25-13.
Ibieta said Country Day has “been playing the best we have all year” during the last three weeks.
Alex Smith led the Cajuns with 12 kills, Mary Tebbe had 29 assists, Kate Launey and Kaci Chairs had seven digs each, Kelsey Dinvaut had four blocks and Chairs had two aces.
Tebbe and Smith are seniors looking for a fourth consecutive trip to the finals.
Smith said that despite the familiarity with the Pontchartrain Center, it’s still necessary get re-acclimated to the surroundings. Three matches generally take place simultaneously, meaning six sets of fans are making noise throughout.
“We’re not used to playing with this many people surrounding us,” she said.
But Country Day went about its business as usual.
“We could have come out stronger,” Tebbe said. “But we did a really good job of communicating and staying focused and we played like one team.”
Darian McCorvey had three kils, Briana Domingue had five assists and Kamryn Villarreal five digs to lead the Saints, who finished 20-18.
Lafayette Christian 3, Dunham 0: Jordan LaVergne led Lafayette Christian with nine kills, Samantha Gilmore had 20 assists and Myca Broussard had 16 digs.
Hannah Pixley led Dunham (34-7) with six kills, Taylor Hunt had 10 assists and nine digs.
Central Catholic 3, Episcopal of Acadiana 0: Central Catholic was balanced as Yani Johnson, Carolina Green and Ava Nicar each had 10 kills. Katie Hoffpauir had 28 assists and 14 digs.
Ascension Episcopal 3, McGehee 0: Addie Virdrine led Ascension Episcopal with 17 kills and five aces, Abby Hall had 17 assists, Hannah Mattke 34 digs and Jordan Berube four blocks.
Jaida Felix led McGehee (23-12) with 10 kills and 26 digs, and Jordan Felix had nine assists.