Destrehan outlasts ESJ in battle of Wildcats

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 24, 2008


Sports Editor

East St. John Coach Monica Hebert sees a resolute group of Wildcats these days, more so than she saw in the first round of district play.

That’s shown up on the scoreboard, as ESJ has given its opponents this round more competition — but it hasn’t yet manifested itself in the win column.

The Wildcats lost two District 4-I matches this week, falling at Destrehan on Wednesday night, 25-27, 22-25, 21-25, and at home to Dutchtown Monday, 22-25, 25-27, 18-25.

The latest loss to rival Destrehan (11-15, 7-1) may have been the toughest one to swallow for the Ladycats (7-15, 0-8), who led in all three games, including by eight in each of the first two.

But Hebert says that with the season winding down, her team is playing with more of a sense of urgency.

“We stepped it up to their level, unlike the last time we played (Destrehan),” she said. “Destrehan’s a major rival and the girls picked it up. But the other point is that they understand we’re in the second round. Now, there are only two district games left, and we all want to end on a good note.”

Mariah Wilder had seven kills and two blocks for East St. John. Emily Heltz had 11 assists. Tabitha Onebene had six digs.

Alexis Keller led Destrehan with 23 assists. Teena Marchese added 20 digs. Daisha Smith had nine kills.

On Monday, Wilder, Chantell Bush, and Jasmine Marshall all had four kills, but it wasn’t enough for ESJ to bring down the Griffins.

Heltz had 14 assists in the match. Taja McGee had three kills and an ace.

Despite the losses, Hebert sees no quit in her team.

“We were backing off in the early season matches. Now, we just keep pushing and pushing. The girls are playing with more confidence.”

Some of that confidence might stem from a strong showing at East St. John’s Cat Scratch tournament this past Saturday. The Wildcats won three matches and advanced from their pool, but fell in bracket play to eventual champion Houma Christian, which topped Ponchatoula in the final match.

Houma won in three games, rallying to take a 21-25, 25-22, 15-6 win over the host Wildcats. Jasmine Marshall led ESJ with five kills.

ESJ started the day with a win over a local foe in Reserve Christian, topping the Eagles 26-24, 25-21. Wilder had eight kills and two aces.

ESJ moved to 2-0 on the day with a win over Ascension Christian, 25-12, 25-8. Heltz had 14 assists and three kills.

A familiar opponent tagged the Wildcats with their only pool loss, as East Ascension defeated ESJ 23-25, 25-23, 15-13 in a nailbiter.

ESJ bounced back to clinch a berth in the winner’s bracket, beating Loranger 21-25, 25-22, 15-10. Onebene notched seven digs.

“It was a confidence booster,” said Hebert. “We were on a losing streak, but we were able to put some wins away. We played well, the girls were happy. It set a good tone for the week.”