Bulldogs’ season ends at hands of Cardinals in semifinals
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
The best season in the history of Lutcher volleyball came to an end on Friday afternoon, as top seeded E.D. White eliminated the Bulldogs in the Division III state semifinals, 25-11, 25-20, 25-6 at the Pontchartrain Center.
“I prepped myself for this,” said Lutcher Coach Ricky LeBlanc. “I’m emotional for our seniors. But I knew before the game that no matter how it turned out, nobody could take this season away from us.
“We won 28 games, two tournaments, and reached the semifinals for the first time. It was just an unbelievable year.”
E.D. White (33-6) advanced to the state final, where it defeated Sacred Heart 25-17, 25-11, 23-25, 25-17 to earn the state championship. It was the sixth consecutive finals appearance for the Cardinals, but the first victory.
To get there, it had to defeat a Bulldogs (28-8) squad fresh off of victories over Westlake and rival St. Charles in the two previous rounds. Prior to this year’s tourney, the Bulldogs had never won a game at the Pontchartrain Center.
But the Bulldogs would be no match for the Cardinals’ airtight defense and thunderous hitting.
E.D. White came out firing early in the first game, and seemed to catch Lutcher off guard, getting out to an early 16-4 lead. Lutcher couldn’t rally to make a game of it, and White led the match 1-0.
“I don’t think we were warmed up and ready to go yet,” said LeBlanc. “We started to play a little better at the end of the first one, and I think we carried it into the second game.”
That seemed to be the case as Lutcher was fired up to begin the second contest, and jumped on top early. It scored four of the first six points behind a block and kill by Kayla Brady. Lutcher led by as many as five, 12-7, before E.D. White would make another push.
The Cardinals strung together three straight points before Lutcher’s Maci Matherne answered with a kill to make it 13-10. But E.D. White scored the next five points, taking advantage of three Lutcher return errors. A kill by White’s Kathryn Stock made it 16-14, and another by the Cardinals’ Shay Rivere later pushed the lead to three, 19-16.
“34 (Stock) is phenomenal,” said LeBlanc. 24 (Hailey Silveri) is just as good. They’ve got so many weapons that will make it tough for you.”
A kill by Lutcher’s Holly Martin cut the lead to two, 20-18, before White started to pull away. The Cardinals scored four of the next five points, capped by a Stock kill, to forge ahead 23-19. Lutcher would add another point, but kills by Victoria Stein and Stock stamped the victory for E.D. White, sending Lutcher into a significant two game hole.
“We told each other when we got down to just keep doing the things we’ve done when we got down during the season,” said Lutcher senior Katie Ocmand. “Go out, have fun, do the little things right. We lost a little momentum when they came back, but we tried to keep it going as much as possible.”
The Cardinals led the third and final game 7-4 before going on a 10-0 run that was capped by an Emily Albert ace. It made it 17-4, and clear that the Cardinals would be moving forward.
Silverii led the Cardinals with nine kills and six blocks. Stock had four aces. Caroline Becnel had 17 digs, and Jessica Politz added 30 assists.
Lauren Bourgeois notched six kills and three blocks for Lutcher. Matherne had three blocks. Martin had 11 assists and Ocmand had 11 digs.
Ocmand echoed her coach’s sentiments on the season.
“We (the seniors) have been playing together for four years, since we were freshman,” said Ocmand. “It’s a tremendous feeling to go out knowing that we accomplished what we did this season.”
MORE FINALS RESULTS: St. Joseph defeated Fontainebleau, 24-26, 25-21, 25-10, 25-22 to capture the Division I title. Cabrini topped Sam Houston 25-8, 25-19, 25-17 to take the Division II crown. McGehee topped John Curtis 25-18, 22-25, 28-26, 25-22 for the Division II title, and Northlake Christian came from behind to top Episcopal of Acadiana 23-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 15-10 for the Division I crown.