Rams can’t overcome Eagles

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 30, 2009



EDGARD — Buoyed by a contingent of hyped-up seniors in the final home match of their West St. John careers, West St. John was hungry for its first district win on Wednesday.

But despite a hard opening charge that saw the Rams take victory in the first game, Central Catholic recovered to win the next three and down WSJ for the third time this season, 23-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-19.

It was the final district match for both teams, and the final match of the season for WSJ.

“I think everyone came out excited and ready to win for the seniors,” said West St. John coach Valerie Gauthier. “They had that adrenaline rush, but I think nerves set in after that. They all really wanted to win this last match.”

Meo Knight led Central Catholic (3-3 in district) with 18 kills. Nia Stewart added 12. Caroline Byrne had 38 assists and Olivia Crawford added 23 digs.

Senior Kyla Morris had four blocks and three digs for WSJ. Senior Talar Lewis had four digs and an ace. Senior Malana Farnell added three digs and two aces. Deja Feist added five blocks.

The Rams (7-16, 0-6) jumped out to leads of 15-7 and later 19-11 before Central Catholic charged back in the first game. A pair of kills by Celine Flores augmented a 5-0 run that made it 19-16. Morris secured a block to put WSJ ahead by four, and a tip and an ace by Lewis on back-to-back plays gave West St. John a 22-17 lead. The Eagles got a pair of aces from Amanda Barron to make it 22-20, and later cut the lead to one at 23-22.

A serving error gave WSJ a 24-22 lead. Knight slapped down a kill to make it a one-point game again, but Tahajenik Howard scored the clinching point of the game for the Rams to put her team ahead 1-0.

“We really wanted to win at least one district game,” said Morris. “We came out to fight.”

The second game saw Central Catholic start hot, doubling WSJ up early at 10-5. After Farnell scored a point to cut a six-point Eagle lead to 15-10, Central took off and scored the next six points, including a pair of kills by Knight a put away by Stewart and an ace by Flores. It made it 21-10 and WSJ never recovered.

Central trailed only once in the third game, at 4-3. Once taking the lead, the Eagles never looked back, leading by as many as eight at one point. Knight finished off the 25-17 decision with a spike.

West St. John had one last gasp to salvage a win in its final match, and it caught a second wind early in the fourth game. A Morris kill put WSJ ahead 2-0. Brittany Tuco, Morris and Feist combined to account for the next four Rams points, making it 6-1. WSJ would lead 9-1 before Central pushed back.

But push back the Eagles did, rattling off six straight points to make it a two point game. West St. John would hold a lead until Central Catholic finally tied things up at 15-15 on a lifting call. Beth Gauthier’s ace gave the Eagles their first lead, and they would score five straight in all to go ahead 18-15. With a 20-17 lead, Stewart slapped down a kill to ignite another quick 4-0 run. Farnell accounted for two points to extend the game, but a Ram return error ended the rally.

“They played better than we’d seen before,” said Central coach Kindra Halverson of West St. John. “They hustled and got after every ball.

“It’s good to play in a match like that just before the playoffs.”

Morris said the loss made for a bittersweet ending to her Ram volleyball career, but she will look back on it fondly.

“It’s meant everything to me,” said Morris. “Plenty of life stories and memories are going to stick with me.”