Rams surge ends at hands of Sacred Heart

Published 11:45 pm Friday, November 2, 2012




GRAND COTEAU — West St. John rode a late-season surge of momentum into its bi-district Division V playoff matchup with host Sacred Heart-Grand Coteau Thursday. But the ninth-seeded Fire Birds proved too difficult a match for the Rams, as Sacred Heart advanced with a three-game victory, 25-8, 25-15 and 25-5.

“We battled,” said West St. John coach Glenda Rush, concluding her first season back with the Rams as head coach after a two-year absence from that role. “Sacred Heart came out and really had an edge early. We stayed within a few points, but then our mistakes started catching up with us, and they took advantage.”

Rush said that, just as the score indicates, the second game proved the Rams’ best effort of the day.

“My girls adjusted and we stayed ahead of them for a good part of that second game,” Rush said. “But they turned things around and dominated the tail end of it.

“When Deja (Feist) and Sydnei Young were on the front row, they did a good job blocking their big girl. But once we established some success against her at the net, her next step was to compensate and start hitting it into the middle of the floor, and that’s where they found a lot of success.”

Sacred Heart advanced to the regional round, where it will face Catholic-Pointe Coupee.

West St. John came into its own in the final weeks of the season; the Rams finished 10-3 in their last 13 regular season matches, with two losses coming against Central Catholic, the third-seeded team in Division V. West St. John finished second in District 5-V behind Central Catholic, after sweeping Houma Christian.

A few lineup adjustments aided matters — Rush said that the midseason move of Donasia Bell to setter allowed her to become “the quarterback” of the offense.

But just as important, she said, was a shift in the attitude and confidence of the players.

“The one thing I did see was that there was no quit in them at any time (Thursday),” said Rush. “They didn’t have that look on their faces, so if they got down, I didn’t see any signs of it. That’s a great improvement. At times, several games ago, the girls would look defeated.

“They became better fighters this season. They learned that if you battle, no matter what the scoreboard says, you can leave the gym with your head held high.”

The Rams lose five seniors from this year’s team, but Rush said some of the program’s younger players, both on the varsity and junior varsity rosters, have shown great promise.

“When you’re rebuilding, improving your understanding of the game collectively is a big focus. I thought we made great strides there from start to finish.”