Wildcats beat Higgins, but fall to Bonnabel

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 26, 2008


Sports Editor

For a match that started at 4 p.m., East St. John arrived at the Higgins’ gym at 1 p.m. — because the school’s bus service was short on drivers, it meant that the Ladycats would have to leave early, or not at all.

And after almost six hours at the Hurricanes’ gym, a J.V. match, and five games of varsity play, the Ladycats weren’t about to leave without a victory in hand.

ESJ evened its record at 4-4 by outlasting Higgins in a five-game thriller, 23-25, 26-24, 21-25, 25-19, 15-13.

The Ladycats can enter district play now with the confidence that comes with winning a nip and tuck, down to the wire match on the road. 

“After losing on Tuesday, it definitely picks up our team’s confidence,” said East St. John Coach Monica Hebert. “It’s always been that we start well, then fall short in the end. Tonight, we were able to close it out.”

Emily Heltz had 15 assists and three aces to lead the Wildcats. Mariah Wilder added seven kills and two aces of her own. Chantell Bush notched seven kills, five aces, and three blocks, and Tabitha Onebene had eight digs.

“Everyone was on tonight as far as their hitting and their blocks,” said Hebert. “We covered the whole court. (Higgins’ top players) laid down some really powerful hits, and we were able to scoop them.”

She added that the Wildcats’ serves seemed to give Higgins fits, particularly late.

“(At the end of the fifth game), they had trouble picking up our serves,” she said.

The delay, of course, might have added to the team’s motivation – once at Higgins, there wasn’t much to do but envision victory.

“They’ve got a huge gym, and we stayed in the upstairs part of it,” Hebert said. “So really, all we could do was sit and watch the P.E. classes.”

On Tuesday, the Wildcats weren’t able to topple the hosting Bonnabel Bruins, which captured a 25-15, 25-15, 23-25, 25-17 win over ESJ.

Heltz had 16 assists. Bush had six kills and two aces. Wilder had three kills and four blocks, and Taja McGee added four kills.

Hebert said that her team was done in by a slow start.

“We were pretty much flat over the first two games,” Hebert said. “We picked it up in the third game, but they got ahead of us in the fourth. We just couldn’t catch up.”