Patriots end Rebels season in quarters

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2008


Sports Editor

Riverside arrived to the Pontchartrain Center Thursday at the state volleyball tournament looking to play a little role reversal with district foe and quarterfinals opponent John Curtis.

In the past two seasons, Riverside swept Curtis in the regular season en route to a district title, only to fall to the Patriots in the state tournament. This season, the shoe was on the other foot — Curtis swept Riverside in two district games.

But for the first time in three years, things held true to form. No. 2 seeded Curtis downed the No. 7 Rebels in four games, 25-11, 25-21, 29-31, 25-18 to advance to the Division II semifinals.

Curtis overcame a nine-point deficit to win the match’s second game, and also recovered after the Rebels won an emotional third game.

“I’m upset with the loss, but I can’t be upset with my players,” said Riverside Coach Mandy Luminais. “They played their hearts out. It just didn’t fall our way.”

Curtis’ Ashley Henderson said she and her team were determined not to let the recent history between the two teams repeat itself at the tournament.

“We didn’t want them to do to us what we did to them,” said Henderson, who led all players with 31 kills. “But we knew they wouldn’t quit. They never give up. It’s who they are.”

Curtis (32-9) dominated the first game, clinching a 25-11 victory after a kill by Alison Grabert and an ace by Lindsay Scallon.

But Riverside (27-15) looked like a different team in the second game. Curtis opened with a serving error, and the Rebels ran out to a 6-1 lead. A kill and a tip by Shea Lafountain helped extend the lead to 9-3. Curtis would cut the deficit to three, 11-8, but the Rebels surged ahead to lead 19-11 after an attempted Curtis block on Heidi Garcich went out of bounds.

But the Rebels couldn’t maintain it, and soon the bottom fell out. Back to back Henderson kills made it 19-14. After four more unanswered Patriot points, a double-contact violation tied the game at 19. Henderson slammed another kill to put her team ahead 20-19, and the Patriots added one more to make it 10 consecutive points. Riverside couldn’t recover, and a Lacey Huxen kill put Curtis ahead 2-0 in the match.

“It’s one thing we need to look at going into next year and work on,” said Luminais. “When we get a big lead and jump on a team, we need to keep it going. We can’t let them get confidence back and get back in it. I want to see us play with that kind of heart (in building the lead) from points one to 25.”

The third game represented Riverside’s best effort against Curtis this season. Neither team led by more than four at any point. Curtis led 19-17, but Riverside rattled off four scores to make it 21-19. Curtis answered with three points to retake the lead, but a Patriots serve error tied the game again.

Two straight kills by Kaitlyn Millet gave Riverside a 24-23 lead. A dink by Huxen and a kill by Henderson put Curtis back on top. Then the Rebels took the lead after a net violation and a Curtis return error.

There were ties at 26, 27, and 28 before Curtis took its final lead, 29-28, on a Henderson kill. A Curtis return error, a second net violation, and an ace by Aimee Williamson clinched the Riverside victory.

But Riverside fell flat in the early stages of the fourth game. Curtis jumped out to a 9-2 lead, and would lead by five or more the rest of the way.

“I thought we’d be pumped. But you know they say ‘too little too late’? I think it was too much, too soon,” said Luminais. “They were mentally and physically wiped out.”

Scallan had 58 assists. Huxen had 13 digs and Ashley Seeman had six blocks.

Garcich tallied 10 kills and 37 digs for Riverside. Millet had nine assists. Shaney Borne had five blocks and Ashley Forstall had three aces.