‘Cats win wild match with Rams

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 24, 2011



ST. JAMES — West St. John seemed on the verge of avenging its dramatic loss to archrival St. James a week prior, leading 11-6 in the final game of a rematch that also was going the distance.

But the Wildcats wouldn’t buckle, rallying to force a wild end of game sequence that finally resulted St. James’ second victory over the Rams this season, 25-23, 14-25, 15-25, 26-24 and 17-15 at St. James.

“It was just a matter of will,” said St. James coach James Smith. “We weren’t in sync at times. But once we started setting up our offense and getting kills, then it was just a matter of playing consistent defense.

“When St. James and West St. John get together, anytime, in anything, it’s a matter of pride. And our girls didn’t want to lose.”

Said Brittany Ferchaud, the Wildcats’ leading hitter on the match, “They came here wanting revenge, but we didn’t let them have it.”

In some ways, the match mirrored the one a week prior, one that saw West St. John (6-4) lead two games to one before dropping the final two contests.

In the clincher, West St. John surged to a five-point lead after four consecutive points — a kill by Deja Feist, an ace by Da’Nae Lumar, a dink by Breion Sorapuru and a return error by St. James — put WSJ ahead 11-6.

The Wildcats were not prepared to go home with a loss, though. St. James scored nine consecutive points to put themselves in position for a victory. Brittany Ferchaud was the star of the stretch; she had back-to-back scoring plays for the team’s 10th and 11th points, including a crowd-pleasing spike, another kill for the team’s 13th point and a scoring hit on its 14th.

“We feed off of her,” said Smith. “No doubt about it.”

But at 14-11, St. James committed a serving violation which gave the ball back to the Lady Rams down by two. A serve return by SJH sailed out of bounds to make it 14-13, and Sorapuru scored on a hit at the net to tie things up. A return error gave the Rams the lead and the game had swung again.

But West St. John wouldn’t finish its rally. Again, Ferchaud came up big, her return volley finding real estate just inbounds to tie the contest again. A Rams’ return that sailed out of bounds gave St. James the lead. And one play later, the Rams could not return a SJH serve and the Wildcats were celebrating a victory that moments earlier seems so very unlikely.

“It was back and forth. We had the momentum, then we lost it,” said Ferchaud. “But at the end, we knew we had to keep it going.”

St. James led throughout the day’s first game after taking a quick 5-1 lead fueled by a match-opening kill by Kaitlin Bartholomew and three consecutive aces by Ferchaud. The Wildcats led by as many as six at 19-13, but WSJ pushed back to get within three. But the Rams got no closer, and Bartholomew ended things with a block to secure a 1-0 SJH lead.

The second game was all Lady Rams. Trailing 6-5, the Rams went on a run of 11 straight points sparked by a block by Feist. Donasia Bell added another block in the run, which finished with WSJ ahead 16-6. St. James pushed to within six at 20-14 but a Sorapuru tip and three straight Brittany August aces helped fuel a 5-0 run to end the game and tie the match at 1-1.

The Rams again controlled the third game, albeit a closer one through much of the contest. A tip by SJH’s Tyjha Greenup made it 17-15 Rams, but another big WSJ run ended things as the Rams scored the final eight points, including two Lakeedra Lewis aces and a scoring hit by Arnelle Jack.

The fourth game was back and forth throughout. St. James led by a small margin most of the way. Consecutive kills by Korielle Tucker and Greenup gave SJH a 23-20 lead. The Rams fired back, an ace by Lewis and a kill by Bell among the key plays in a 5-0 run that gave WSJ a 24-23 lead. But St. James scored the final three points on Ram returns that sailed out or ended in an error to tie things up.

“We need to learn how to finish games,” said WSJ coach Brandon Dumas.

“We had the lead and we just let it get away. St. James fought hard. I just feel like if we fought harder, we’d have come out on top. We gave it away tonight.”