Tatiana Bell and Carsyn Wallow have seen their high school season end in the quarterfinals of the playoffs every year.
The lone seniors on the John Curtis volleyball team are determined to give this season a better ending.
Two games in and the Patriots’ twin towers are off to a good start.
The duo combined for 25 kills in Wednesday’s 25-17, 25-21, 26-24 victory over visiting Chalmette.
“We are definitely trying to get over the hump this year,” Bell said.
Curtis, ranked No. 5 in The New Orleans Advocate’s Small School rankings, improved to 2-0 and beat their second straight ranked opponent.
The victory over Chalmette, No. 6 in the large school rankings, came a day after a season-opening win over second-ranked Fontainebleau.
“It’s a good start,” Patriots coach Dawn Curtis said. “We are seeing what our weaknesses are and getting a feel of our strengths. Our strength is our experience and most of my girls play club and have played since they were freshman. My two seniors are going to be some big shoes for someone to have to try to fill next year.”
The 5-foot-9 Bell finished with 14 kills, three aces and two blocks. Wallow had 11 kills.
“Whenever we are with each other, we feed off each other,” Bell said. “Once she does something good, I have to do something good.”
Bell helped swing the momentum early in the first game.
With the game tied 13-13, a Bell block gave the Patriots the lead. They went on to rattle off six straight points to take a 20-13 lead and eventually win the first game. They rallied from a 10-4 deficit in the second game. In the third game, they found themselves in even bigger holes. They trailed 7-1 at one point. Then 10-3. Then 13-5.
But Bell was never concerned despite the deficits.
“What stands out the most about this team is we feed off momentum, and we always fight back,” Bell said. “We aren’t going to just stop because we are down. It pushed us to go harder. We struggled in the third game, but we weren’t going to give up.”
Bell had two of her aces in the game’s final three points, and Wallow had one of her kills. Sarah Drake also had 11 kills for Curtis. Danie Hebert, who transferred from Riverside Academy, had 21 assists and Reaghan Fabacher had 18 assists. Layne Estes had three kills and three blocks.
But Curtis said there is plenty of room for improvement.
“We played very inconsistent today,” Curtis said. “Passing, serving, setting, hitting and too many unforced errors. But it’s a ‘W,’ so I’ll take it.”
Kaitlyn Lacour had 11 kills, seven blocks and a pair of aces for the Owls (0-1). Kelli Gallardo finished with 23 digs and Emily Pulley had 10 assists.
“Kaitlyn plays year round,” Plaiscia said “She’s sure and confident and wants the ball. She is just a player.”
Plaiscia, in her 27th season, was pleased with what she saw in a team that last played for the state championship in the 1990s.
“I feel real good about the way we played,” Plaiscia said. “Opening up against somebody tough like Curtis is a big match to take on. They are powerful and quick, so we knew it would be tough. They are tall and unfortunately we are not. We are always a small team so we focus on defense, even moreso this year. But we hung in there with them almost point for point so I’m proud of my girls.”
It was two of Curtis’ tallest players who led the way.
“Winning a championship is all we talk about, “ said the 6-foot Wallow. “That’s our motivation. I have played with (Bell) for so long that it’s like second nature.
“This team has played together a long time, plus we now have Dani and Toni (Hebert) from Riverside and I think that is going to make us that much better.”
Curtis will play its third match in three days Thursday when it plays Karr. Chalmette will play in the Assumption Tournament on Thursday and Saturday.