REBELS REFUSE TO LOSE
Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 1, 2011
By RYAN ARENA
RESERVE — Riverside has sent a message through the first three matches of district play: The Lady Rebels are still here.
The Rebels defeated John Curtis and St. James in matches this week to move to 3-0 in district play, downing the former in a dramatic five game set Tuesday, 25-21, 21-25, 25-20, 16-25 and 15-10.
“Before we began, I don’t think we were favored to come out on top (in district),” said Riverside coach Briget Melancon. “I think for the girls, (the win) was about proving to everyone, but really also ourselves, that we’re still here. That we’re right where we need to be. And just being around them in school, I could feel it from them … they were all revved up, all day. It was the same against St. Charles.”
Riverside entered district play with a record just under .500, but the Rebels are showing that the mark was more a reflection of facing top competition.
“It was a really big win for us,” said Danielle Sharp, who finished the Curtis game with 15 kills. “We know that to get to the playoffs, with our overall record what it is, we need to win district.”
More of it was on display in the form of Curtis, as the two teams engaged in what became the sixth five-game set of the season for the Rebels, who are now 4-2 in such contests.
With the teams knotted up 1-1 in the match, the Patriots seemed primed to take control after taking a commanding lead in the early stages of the third game. Consecutive kills by the Patriots’ Chelsea Smith and Elizabeth Melancon put JCC ahead 15-8.
But Riverside began to chip away at that lead. A Taylor Terrio tip for a score highlighted a quick 3-0 Rebel run, then Jenna Roussel caught fire, putting away three kills in a row to pull RA within two, 16-14. Curtis scored twice to extend its lead to four, but a pair of mistakes on a serve and a return effort sparked another Rebel run, this one six straight points, including kills by Terrio and Danielle Sharp. It put RA ahead 20-18.
Halle Gayton tied it up for the Patriots after driving home two kills. But that was it for Curtis; a Sharp kill gave Riverside the lead for good and it closed out the game with a 5-0 run, three of the last four points all off of Shelby Deslatte aces.
The fourth game started in much the same fashion as the third. Curtis led 10-5 and then 16-11 after a double-block for a score by Casey Corcoran and Gayton. The Rebels, as they did a game before, got into a quick groove and scored three straight, pulling within 16-14 on a kill by Sharp and a pair of Curtis errors.
But this time, the Patriots ended the game on a roll. Leading 19-16, Curtis scored the final six points, including two kills each by Melancon and Tatiana Bell.
That brought the teams to a decisive fifth game. Riverside started hot and built a five-point lead; it would grow no larger, but the Patriots couldn’t close the gap and the Rebels moved to 2-0 in district.
“We just said that ‘We are going to win this,’” said Sharp. “’We aren’t going to let them beat us.’”
“The girls were very determined to win that game,” said Melancon. “I was on the edge of my seat. But their attitude was that they wouldn’t be denied.”
Toni Hebert had two aces and 31 assists. Deslatte had 20 digs. Erica Delauneville had 11 blocks. Sharp had 15 kills.
Melancon said two others who stepped up, particularly in the last game, were Katie Bailey and Jenna Roussel. Bailey finished with 14 digs, while Roussel had six kills on the day.
“(Bailey’s) passing was so consistent and she helped get our offense back on track once she went in. Between her and Shelby, we were extremely solid on the back row,” said Melancon. “Jenna had six kills and almost no errors. She had one on 16 contacts and she was hitting the deep corner, which we emphasized in practice. It made a huge difference.”
The first game saw Riverside lead 20-12 at one point and shake off a Curtis rally to secure victory. The second saw the Patriots win in the same situation, surviving a late Riverside run after taking a 23-16 lead.
REBELS TOP ST. JAMES IN THREE — Riverside won it’s second district home game of the week Thursday, topping St. James 25-12, 25-11 and 25-10.
Hebert had 10 aces and 20 assists. Sharp had four blocks and eight kills. Deslatte had 34 digs and Terrio had eight kills for Riverside (10-10, 3-0).
The Rebels will return to action in tomorrow’s Lutcher tournament.