Another tough finale
Central Catholic’s Gee Garrett defends while Country Day’s Tai Bierria fires a spike at the Lady Eagles. Bierria was one of several Country Day hitters who provided a balanced attack against Central Catholic in a 3-0 Country Day victory in the Division 5 state semifinals Friday at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner. The semifinal loss was the fourth straight for the Lady Eagles. Country Day went on to win its fifth straight title Saturday against Episcopal School of Acadiana. (Photo credit: Geoff Stoute)
Central Catholic’s Meo Knight attacks at the net during the Lady Eagles’ semifinal loss to Metairie Park Country Day Friday. (Photo credit: Geoff Stoute)
Head coach Latashia Wise, kneeling, talks to her team during a timeout in Friday’s match. (Photo credit: Geoff Stoute)
Central Catholic coach Latashia Wise didn’t have any qualms about her team’s serve receive or serve offense. She said overall her squad’s defense played well, too.
But the one thing that doomed her squad in its semifinal loss to Country Day was the Metairie Park Country Day Lady Cajuns’ quick offense, which Central Catholic could not stop using a single block.
Consequently, the Lady Eagles were defeated 3-0 (25-12, 25-13, 25-20) in the semifinals Friday at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.
“They have a very, very, very good offense,” Wise said. “It’s very quick, and it’s hard to stop, especially when you single block like we’ve been doing all year … I knew we had our work cut out for us.”
Country Day coach Julie Ibieta said it was key to start fast Friday.
“I think that gave us some confidence,” she said. “Central Catholic’s a great team, and we’re happy that we played well today.”
Country Day (41-7) went on to win the Division 5 state title Saturday with a 3-1 (25-23, 17-25, 25-17, 25-17) win against fellow Division 5 power Episcopal School of Acadiana. The title was the Lady Cajuns’ fifth straight.
For the Lady Eagles, the loss was their fourth straight in the semifinals — twice each to Metairie Park Country Day and two more times to Episcopal School of Acadiana.
This year was Wise’s first as head coach and despite the loss, she said she enjoyed the season, which the Lady Eagles concluded at 29-14.
“Anytime your team can get to the playoffs in general, it’s always a good feeling, whether it’s the quarterfinals or the semifinals,” Wise said. “Yes, it (doesn’t) feel good losing again in the semifinals, but you know what? Central Catholic is a very good school, and I’m pretty sure we’ll get some good talent, we’ll keep working with the talent that we have and we’ll be back.”
In Friday’s loss, Central Catholic led just once in the first game on a tip by Megan Landry for a 5-4 advantage.
While the Lady Eagles kept the game close for the next few points, Country Day pulled away, closing out the match on an 18-5 run that featured plenty of Country Day offensive firepower via kills.
In game 2, Central Catholic’s only lead was on the game’s first point via a kill by Gee Garrett.
Around the same point in the match as Game 1, Country Day pulled away again using kills by Caroline Perlis and Tai Bierria to help capture the 25-13 win.
Central Catholic kept things a little closer in game 3 as late in the contest, it trailed Country Day just 18-16 following a block by Meo Knight.
However, Central Catholic errors and three straight kills, two of those by Bierria, allowed Country Day to close out the contest with the 25-20 win.
While Country Day’s offense was dominated by Katherine Broussard a year ago in their win against Central Catholic, this year’s version of the Lady Cajuns’ team was more balanced.
“This team has definitely formed their own bond, their own chemistry, their own style,” Ibieta said. “We’re a different style team than we have been the last couple years, but they make it work. They play hard and they compete.”
Bierria had 14 kills, while Perlis had 13 kills.
Other top contributors included Jenna Ibieta, 37 assists and two aces; Simone Becnel, three blocks; and Maddie Leger, 11 digs.
No individual statistics were available for Central Catholic.
While the Lady Eagles lost much of its defense from a year ago as well as its setter, the Lady Eagles must replace more defense again this year in Elizabeth Garber and Olivia Crawford as well as its two main hitters, Meo Knight and Gee Garrett.
Still, Wise said she thinks the younger volleyball players are “eager.”
“They’re ready to work,” she said. “They’re ready to get their opportunity.”
Additional reporting by www.nola.com