Wildcats hold off Rams
Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
West St. John notched its biggest win of the season to date on Tuesday, but St. James prevented the Rams from sustaining that momentum on Wednesday.
The Rams began the week by defeating district foe North Iberville for the first time in Coach Glenda Rush’s tenure at West St. John, logging a 25-21, 25-16, 21-25, 25-23 win on the road to begin its district schedule with a win.
But Wednesday, St. James logged a big victory of its own, topping the Rams (3-3, 1-0) in five games at West St. John – 25-8, 24-26, 22-25, 26-24, 15-8 — after losing to their local rivals one week prior.
The Wildcats (2-1) have won the season series with West St. John, two matches to one.
“It means a lot,” said St. James’ Donrielle Melancon, who led the Wildcats with 10 kills. “We’ve got a team full of seniors. We’re ready to show that we’re a lot better than we’ve showed over the last few years.”
Teirene Adams had nine kills, five aces and two blocks for St. James. Terrev Verret added 20 assists.
For West St. John, Kyla Morris had 20 digs, four kills and three blocks. Shanea Julien had 15 digs and three kills. Malana Farnell had 20 digs and two aces.
The match was much more competitive than it appeared it would be midway through the second game. After tearing through the Rams in the first game, 25-8, St. James led the second game 10-1 before West St. John made a feverish comeback.
With St. James leading 18-13, WSJ scored four consecutive points, including a kill by Morris. With the score 18-17, each team took turns scoring points, until West St. John finally tied things up at 21.
A block by Melancon sparked a 3-0 Wildcats run, and it looked like SJH would lead two games to none.
But West St. John scored the last five points, including a scoring hit by Julien, and a game-clinching hit by Farnell.
West St. John pulled out to a 16-11 advantage in the third game, taking the lead off of a 5-0 run sparked by a Morris scoring hit and a Julien block. St. James would rally to tie at 22, but Morris had a kill and an ace.
And just like that, West St. John closed out a 25-22 win to improbably take a 2-1 lead in a match that the Wildcats started in dominating fashion.
St. James didn’t panic.
“We kept our energy up,” said Melancon. “We let the mistakes slide off. It’s just on to the next play.”
The next game saw back and forth action all the way through. St. James led 23-22, then 24-23, but West St. John rallied to tie each score. But the Wildcats scored the next two points to force a fifth, tie breaking match.
There, it seemed the Rams just ran out of gas. St. James jumped out to a 7-2 lead, and the Rams would never recover.
“This wasn’t the same team that I saw against North Iberville,” said Rush. “There was no emotion. And with this team, when they don’t have it at first, energy comes in spurts. When they try to pick it back up, they have to fight so hard, and end up making mistakes.”
She did, however, praise the comeback effort.
“My girls fight, from beginning to end,” she said.
Against North Iberville, Rush said, lack of energy wasn’t a problem at all. West St. John surged to a 2-0 lead in the match, and kept up the pressure from there.
“They played with so much charisma and energy. It was almost like I didn’t even have to coach,” said Rush.
(See WSJ, Page 11A)
A season ago, North Iberville edged West St. John out for a playoff spot, thanks in large part to a sweep in the season series.
This time, Rush says her team was able to attack North Iberville effectively at the net, and in its frontcourt.
“They played back real far on us, so we were able to dink them in the front,” Rush said. “It’s a real big win for us.”
Morris had 22 digs, 15 kills, and four blocks. Talor Lewis had 23 digs and four aces, leading the team in each category. Farnell had 22 digs of her own, and Julien had 10 digs, six kills, and two blocks.