Lutcher advances to first state semifinal
Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
Coach Ricky LeBlanc’s Lutcher Bulldogs had never won a game at the Pontchartrain Center’s state volleyball tournament prior to Wednesday.
As of Thursday night, they’d won two.
No. 5 seeded Lutcher advanced to its first-ever state semifinal match by defeating No. 13 Westlake, 25-20, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21 in the Division III quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs were slated to face former district foe E.D. White, the tournament’s No. 1 seed, on Friday afternoon after press time.
“All I know,” said Lutcher Coach Ricky LeBlanc, “is that since I’ve been here, we’ve never won at state. Now we’re in the semifinals. Since Coach Tim (Detillier) asked me to take this program over nine years ago, it’s been a dream of mine to not only get here, but to play with programs like E.D. White.”
Maci Matherne clinched the fourth and final match by accounting for three consecutive points, scoring on two blocks and a dink to end things.
Matherne had four blocks within Lutcher’s final six points. All were key in a game where Westlake refused to fade away.
“We weren’t going to let that one get away,” Matherne said. “This is overwhelming. We’ve never gotten out of the (regional) round, and now we’re here. It’s a great way to finish out my senior year.”
Said LeBlanc: “She has unbelievable talent. When she gets in that mode, she’ll take over the game. She’ll throw people out the way to get to the ball. She gave us a great finishing push.”
Westlake (26-9) had upset No. 4 Parkview Baptist to advance to the quarterfinal game.
Lutcher (28-7) led 21-20 in the first game before a Matherne tip ended a 4-0 run to give Lutcher 1-0 lead in the match.
The Bulldogs took a two-games-to-none lead after a back and forth second contest. Westlake led 14-9 early, but Lutcher tied the game at 15 on an ace by Matherne.
A kill by Autumn Jones and an ace by Kylie Goodeaux gave Westlake a 17-15 lead, but Lutcher fought back to tie it again.
There were ties at 21, 22, and 23 before a Westlake return went too long, giving Lauren Bourgeois an opening to finish the Rams off with a block. Standing with a two game lead, Lutcher was ready to take care of business and move on.
And it looked like they would early on in the third game, a Kayla Brady dink giving the Bulldogs a 9-3 lead. But Westlake scratched and clawed back into it. The Rams cut the lead to one, 11-10, but would trail for the majority of the game. But every time Lutcher made a push, Westlake pushed back, and would take its first lead at 19-18 on a kill by Emily Richmond. Matherne tied it up with a kill of her own, but back-to-back kills by Westlake’s Brittany Carlin helped to push the Rams ahead 22-19. The Rams held on from there.
“I didn’t know what to expect from Westlake. We didn’t have much to go on. But I’m very impressed,” said LeBlanc.
The final game seemed to follow the same script as the third. Lutcher would push ahead, and Westlake would close the gap. There were ties at 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, and 19.
“I told my team to swing away,” said LeBlanc. We’d just swing, swing, swing, and they’d go ahead and dig, dig, dig.”
Matherne gave the Bulldogs a 20-19 lead with her first block of her team’s final push, and Lutcher wouldn’t trail again.
Brady led Lutcher with eight kills. Matherne finished with six blocks. Katie Ocmand had 19 digs and Holly Martin had 11 assists and three aces.
Alyssa Query led Westlake with 16 kills. Jase Johnson had four blocks. Richmond had three aces, Kelsie Neal had 15 assists, and Carlin had 26 digs.