MORGAN CITY — Serving solid serving wasn’t a constant for Morgan City Thursday, but the Lady Tigers came through when they had to, accompanied by a solid front row attack, to edge Central High of Baton Rouge, 3-0 (25-16, 26-24, 25-23) in first-round Division 2 playoff action.
While the Lady Tigers missed nine serves in the ball game, they did get a solid start as junior Savannah Loupe served three consecutive aces and four on her first trip behind the serving line as the Lady Tigers jumped out to a 7-0 lead.
“It was really a confidence booster,” Loupe said of the serving to get out to the early lead, which she agreed helped settle the team’s nerves with a nice advantage.
The Lady Tigers extended their lead to as much as 12-3 on a Central ball handling error.
However, errors on the Lady Tigers’ part allowed Central to claw its way back into the game.
A Morgan City error allowed Central to cut the lead to 14-8 and another Morgan City error later helped them cut the lead to 17-12.
However, the Lady Tigers would close the game on an 8-4 run, capped by a May Grogan kill for the 25-16 win.
Grogan, along with Jaiveianna Jones, had solid games at the net for the Lady Tigers.
“Our middles (hitters) did really good tonight,” Loupe said. “They were on their game.”
Kloe Liner came alive in the third game, while Ariel Trim also did some good things for the Lady Tigers.
Jones led the squad with 15 kills and four blocks as well as an ace and a dig, while Grogan added 10 kills, two blocks, a block assist, an assist and a dig.
Liner added seven kills, 10 digs and an ace, while Trim recorded five kills along with two blocks, a block assist and six digs.
In game two, Morgan City appeared as if it would duplicate its start to game one as the Lady Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
However, Central (14-17) clawed its way back to even the score at 5 on a Cameron Clement ace.
From then on, the game went back-and-forth as there were 10 ties with neither team taking more than the three-point advantage that Morgan City had on a Jones’ ace for a 17-14 Morgan City lead. On the play, the ball bounced off the scoreboard following contact with a Central defender before falling to the ground.
With the game tied at 22, Central looked as if it would take the second game as consecutive hitting errors by Grogan, one in the net and another out of bounds, gave Central a 24-22 lead and prompted Morgan City coach Christy Theriot to call a timeout.
Immediately after the timeout, though, Morgan City came through as Central missed a serve to cut its advantage to 24-23, while Jones followed with a block to even the score at 24.
Loupe then connected on an ace for a 25-24 Morgan City lead before Trim's kill ended the second game, 26-24.
Game three again was back and forth with the largest lead a 16-12 Morgan City advantage following a Grogan kill, prompting Central coach Michele LeBouef to call a timeout.
Central took its lone lead of the game, 23-22, on a Morgan City error.
However, Morgan City rallied with a 3-0 run, capped by a Genesis Esteban block for Morgan City’s win.
“They came through when they needed to, but we can’t get in that bind again,” Theriot said. “(They were) just a little silly in between the first and the second games, and it took them awhile to settle back down.”
Jones said the squad could have played better in the second and third games.
“We played good, but I think we could have done better within the second and third games because we missed a lot of serves, a lot of hits ... But overall, I think we played good,” she said.
Annie Wilson led Central with nine kills, two digs and a block, while Paige Roberts added seven digs and 11 assists. Katie Flowers added nine digs and two aces.
Other Morgan City contributors included Katelyn Adams, four kills, 31 assists and eight digs; Loupe, five aces and 14 digs; Elizabeth Esteban, 10 digs; and Marilynn Bailey, one ace and six digs.
Morgan City will continue postseason play Monday when it travels to New Orleans to take on Cabrini High, the No. 5 seed, who had a first-round bye. Game time is set for 5 p.m.