Seniors make key plays in CCHS' quarterfinal win
By GEOFF STOUTE
KENNER — Key senior contributions along with the dominate net play of a trio of Central Catholic juniors helped the Lady Eagles beat St. Martin’s Episcopal Thursday 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-20) and move into Friday morning’s Division 5 state volleyball semifinals against Metairie Park Country Day.
The Lady Eagles received contributions from Celine Flores and Amanda Barron in clutch situations during Thursday's game at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, while Abbie Bergeron and Maria Templet had good games in the back row as they led the Lady Eagles’ defense with 12 and nine digs, respectively.
Senior setter Caroline Byrne also had a solid outing as she set up Central Catholic’s big three of Meo Knight, Brie Hill and Gee Garrett for kills during the victory. Byrne finished the game with 40 assists.
The Lady Eagles got their shot Friday morning against No. 2 seed Metairie Park Country Day, the three-time defending Division 5 state champion that advanced to the semifinals with a victory in three games against No. 7 Ascension Christian.
The winner of the Central Catholic-Metairie Park Country Day winner will face the winner of the other semifinal between No. 1 seed Episcopal School of Acadiana and No. 5 seed Ascension Episcopal in the state finals Saturday at 11 a.m.
In Thursday’s game, the Lady Eagles’ hitters had their work cut out for them as St. Martin’s routinely dug up Central Catholic kill attempts.
As a team, the Lady Eagles had 87 attack attempts and put down 41 of them. Of the remainder, just 11 were errors.
Combined, Knight, Garrett and Hill had 42 attack attempts and collectively, put down 33 of them for Central Catholic points. Knight led the squad with 15 kills, while Hill had 11 and Garrett put down seven balls.
“That kind of showed a lot for us to have some big stops (against Central Catholic) because we know Country Day will have some big stops also, not only blocking but they’ll have some big digs … We didn’t get defeated,” Central Catholic coach Kindra Halverson said. “We just went back at them again and even if they got up a second ball, we still went back after them. We found the open hole eventually but I have to give it to them. They really did not back down. They were right there every single time.”
Then, there were the seniors.
With the Lady Eagles and the Saints tied at 18 in game two, Flores’ four kills helped the Lady Eagles break away for a 25-19 win.
In game three, Barron put down her only two kills of the match on the game’s final two points for a 25-20 win.
While Bergeron and Templet had stellar days on defense, Bergeron’s biggest play of the day came on one play that actually didn’t work in the Lady Eagles’ favor.
On her unsuccessful pursuit to keep a ball in play, Bergeron exhibited great hustle as she took out a portion of the barricade separating the court from the walkway and bleachers while going after the ball.
Despite what looked like a frightening crash, Bergeron continued to play without even requiring any attention from the coaching staff immediately after the fall.
Later, Halverson said that Bergeron was "OK" following the incident.
“Seniors … they showed heart,” Halverson said. “They were diving all over the floor today making saves, and that’s the type of play that we have to have in order to win games. So down the stretch, they’re really making some big plays for us and they’re coming through.”
St. Martin’s coach Caroline Davis said Central Catholic had “a few more bigger hitters than we did all around … (I’m) very proud of our team. (They) played really hard, played good defense, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.”
In game 1, Central Catholic trailed just once at 2-1 following a St. Martin’s kill.
However, it took a while for the Lady Eagles to pull away as St. Martin managed to keep pace with Central Catholic’s front row with kills.
Ahead 16-15, Central Catholic used a 9-1 run to end the game.
After a kill by Knight broke a St. Martin rally to close the gap, Central Catholic broke away for good.
Garrett’s kill closed the game at 25-19.
In game two, Central Catholic and St. Martin’s were neck-and-neck during throughout much of the game as neither team took more than a two-point lead throughout much of the game.
The game featured 10 ties, the last at 18.
Then, however, Flores made her move before Hill finish off the ball game.
Flores started the run with a kill behind St. Martin defenders, while Hill followed with a block for a 20-18 advantage.
Flores followed with a kill that deflected off the net before falling untouched on St. Martin’s side of the court.
After a St. Martin’s timeout, Flores put down two more shots for a 23-18 Central Catholic advantage.
While St. Martin’s came back with two points, Hill finished the game off for Central Catholic with a kill and a block.
In game three, Central Catholic again trailed just once, 1-0, on Flores’ service error to open the game.
However, Central Catholic responded and for much of the game, kept between a three and six-point advantage.
After St. Martin’s 3-0 run that turned a Central Catholic 22-17 lead into a 22-20 advantage, Barron halted the run and ended the match with consecutive kills.
Other Central Catholic contributors in Thursday's win included Flores, five kills and seven digs, and Olivia Crawford, an ace and seven digs.
Friday morning's opponent, Country Day, has not been beaten since the 2008 state semifinals when Northlake Christian knocked off the squad.
If the Lady Eagles win today, their game Saturday against the other semifinal winner will be broadcast on KBZE 105.9 FM with pregame beginning at 10:45 a.m.