Curtis eliminates Rebels in quarterfinals

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 9, 2007


Sports Editor

Including the bi-district round of the playoffs, in which Riverside dispatched district foe St. James, the Rebels had won five straight matches over district opponents entering the Division IV state volleyball quarterfinals on Thursday.

But an all too familiar opponent halted the Rebels streak there.

No. 11 seed John Curtis eliminated No. 3 Riverside from the playoffs for the second straight season at the Pontchartrain Center. Curtis was victorious in four games, 25-17, 18-25, 25-23, and 25-16.

”It’s that John Curtis rivalry,” said Riverside coach Toni Miano. “It was a combination of that, the atmosphere, and some nerves. We didn’t play our game at all. Curtis outplayed us today.”

Just as in 2006, the Rebels defeated Curtis twice in the regular season en route to a district crown, but fell in the postseason to the Patriots.

Curtis advanced to the state semifinals, where they met No. 7 Dunham on Friday. Dunham eliminated No. 2 seed University in three games, 25-16, 25-17, and 25-20.

Marci Millet led the Rebels (36-4) in kills with 19. Millet and Aimee Williamson each notched two aces. Jessica Price had 35 assists, and Heidi Garcich contributed 41 digs. Shaney Borne added six blocks.

Ashley Henderson led Curtis with 20 kills. Lindsay Scallon had 35 assists and Allison Grabert had two aces.

The turning point in the match came in the third game between the teams. With the match tied at one game apiece, Riverside opened the game with a 9-2 lead and led 18-11 late in the game. But Curtis ran off ten straight points to take a 21-18 lead. Riverside rallied, and a Borne kill would tie the game at 23. But the Patriots scored the final two points, capped by a Grabert kill.

“I thought we had it, but it just didn’t happen,” said Millet.

With Riverside leading 16-14 in the opening game, Curtis capped it with a late 11-2 run to notch the win and go ahead one game to none. Kills by (Lacey Huxen and Grabert) created a 24-18 match point, and the Rebels were called for lifting to end it.

Riverside fell behind 3-0 in the second game, but scored six straight points and took control of the game. Curtis rallied to make it 16-15, but Riverside went on a 5-0 run capped by a Heidi Garcich kill to make it 21-15.

But that play was costly to the Rebels, as Garcich fell awkwardly, injuring her ankle. She struggled to walk off the pain, but was able to finish the match.

“It was the quarterfinals,” Garcich said. “I just pushed myself as hard as I could. I didn’t want to let my team down.”

Riverside pushed ahead to make it 24-18, and a Millet kill finished ended the game and tied the match at 1-1.

After Curtis’s third game comeback, the Patriots took a sizeable 11-5 advantage early. The Rebels went on a run though to tie the game at 12, following a series of kills by Millet, Garcich, Price, and an ace by Aimee Williamson.

But with the game tied at 13, Curtis seized control of the match. A Grabert kill sparked Curtis on a 12-3 run to end the match. With the score 24-16, a Henderson serve went between Riverside defenders for an ace, and Curtis was moving on to the semifinals.

“I told the girls that they have nothing to hang their heads or cry over,” said Miano. “I’m proud of them. We had a good year, this just wasn’t our day.”

For Millet, a senior playing in her final game for Riverside, the loss couldn’t erase what she said was a special experience this season.

“It was a great season,” Millet said. “This is the closest team we’ve had in the four years I’ve been here.”