WSJ wins 1st playoff match ever in sweep

Published 4:07 am Saturday, November 9, 2013


LAPLACE — West St. John senior Sydnei Young had tears in her eyes.
“It’s my last year,” said Young. “And we weren’t losing today.”
The 14th seeded Rams didn’t lose a single game in a three-game bi-district round sweep of visiting Patrick Taylor Thursday and made history in the process, West St. John’s 25-15, 25-15 and 26-24 victory marking the first postseason volleyball victory in the school’s history.
Thursday also marked the first home playoff match in West St. John history.
“I still can’t believe it,” said the Rams’ Brittany August, who served seven aces. “We’ve never been out of the first round. But we’ve had the motivation this year. We pick each other up when things go wrong and then play even harder.”
The Rams advance to face No. 3 Ascension Episcopal on the road. West St. John’s Kaieonne Sorapuru had eight kills and two blocks to lead Ram hitters.
“We wanted to put a banner up there for the first time,” said Sorapuru, noting the banners up in the Rams’ gym signifying district and playoff success in other sports. “This is special to us. It’s our first home playoff game and we knew we had to win.”
Young and Maya Trench each added six kills. Trench and Sydnie Harrison each had two blocks. Brittany August served seven aces, while Young added five and Lakeedra Lewis two.
For Patrick Taylor, Melina Liriano made nine assists. Kaylynn Tran made seven kills and Sarah Allred made 19 digs.
West St. John coach Glenda Mattos beamed with pride when speaking about her players. Mattos has coached at West St. John for eight seasons and guided one of her youngest teams to the program’s greatest success.
“It feels wonderful,” said Mattos. “It’s like a dream come true for me. Coming into this game, my girls weren’t saying too much. This is a shy group. But I could see them bursting at the seams. Sydnei had tears in her eyes because, she said, she got to be a part of history. We’re gonna enjoy this one, but then we’ve gotta get back to work because we’re off to Ascension Episcopal.”
The Rams (14-8) had to overcome a late Taylor push in the third game to clinch the history-making win.
WSJ led 17-11 before four straight Tiger points, including two kills by Tran. Sorapuru made a kill to break the run, but Taylor (11-10)  fought back to pull within one at 23-22 on a Sydney Monix tip. Dmyriah Herbert made a kill to pull WSJ within a point of the win, but two Ram errors pulled Taylor back into a tie.
But a Harrison kill capped a long back-and-forth rally to bring WSJ back to game-point. And after a brief delay – the game officials had to confer on their ruling to cap the next point – a Taylor violation sent the Rams and their fans into celebration.
WSJ’s Tre’Shaun Trench said that there were some nerves at play as the team got closer to reaching round two.
“Coach told us not to let ourselves down, that we had to come back strong,” said Trench.
In the second game, the teams were tied at nine before the Rams went on a 12-3 run to all but put things away, highlighted by two Young aces. A Young tip for a score clinched the 25th and final point.
Young also clinched the first game with a kill, a victory that again was keyed by a Rams run. With the teams knotted at 13, WSJ went on a 9-0 run with August on the serving line. She made three aces in that run, which also included a Harrison kill.
“We played well in the first part of the games,” said Taylor coach Elmore Steinbert. “But we let them go on those runs, 8-0, 9-0 … in the playoffs, you can’t do that.”
Mattos said that confidence was key, and that her players will do nothing but get better for having experienced postseason success.
It was one of the most productive matches of the season for Ram hitters.
“We took some extra time working at the net this week,” said Mattos. “Kaieonne has always had it in her to be a powerful hitter, but it was about confidence and consistency. Sydnei , she’ll take chances. For Kaieonne, she needed to really swing and kill it consistently. She did today, and I think that’ll be big for her going forward. She sees what she’s capable of doing when she’s aggressive.”
Lewis said that the players especially wanted to win for Young, the team’s lone senior.
“She kept telling us that she didn’t want this to be her last game,” said Lewis. “This is really big for all of us. We did it.”