KENNER — Central Catholic coach Kindra Halverson said a day before her squad’s semifinal matchup with Metairie Park Country Day that she hoped her squad could use Country Day’s youth and weaknesses in some areas to the Lady Eagles’ advantage when both squads met in the Division 5 state semifinals Friday.
Unfortunately for the Lady Eagles, one of Country Day’s veterans, senior Katherine Broussard, would not let the Lady Cajuns be stopped.
Broussard, who saw time in the back row but was dominate at the net, put down 23 kills as the Lady Cajuns defeated the Lady Eagles 3-1 (25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 25-11) Friday morning.
Country Day went on to win its fourth consecutive Division 5 crown Saturday as they downed Episcopal School of Acadiana in four games.
For the Lady Eagles, Friday’s loss was their third consecutive defeat in the state semifinals. In 2010 and 2011, the Lady Eagles fell to Episcopal School of Acadiana.
“Honestly, coming into this game, I told the girls that I wanted to look at them after the game and be able to tell them I had no regrets. No lineup regrets. No substitution regrets. Nothing that I said that I would take back. And I can honestly walk away and say that I did that,” Halverson said. “The girls never gave up. Today was just Country Day’s day. We were evenly matched up, and they just came out on top today.”
Besides Broussard, a Howard University commitment who finished the game with 23 kills, one of the youngsters for Country Day, eighth-grader Jenna Ibieta, had a big day with 45 assists and four aces. Freshman Tai Bierria also had a nice game for Country Day.
Several Central Catholic players also turned in solid outings led by Knight’s 26 kills and 10 digs as well as a solo block and a block assist.
Caroline Byrne had 35 assists and four digs in the loss, while Abbie Bergeron, 21 digs; Hill, six kills and five blocks; and Gee Garrett, four kills, four solo blocks and a block assist were leaders for Central Catholic.
In game 1 Friday, Central Catholic rallied from an early 6-3 deficit with a 5-0 run to take an 8-6 advantage.
Meo Knight’s big kill that deflected off Country Day defenders tied the game at 6 and then Knight followed it up with a block of Simone Becnel’s hit for a 7-6 Central Catholic advantage. The Lady Eagles followed with another point for an 8-6 advantage.
However, Country Day rallied and eventually pulled ahead for good following a kill by Bierria for a 10-9 Country Day advantage.
Country Day would never trail again in the initial game.
Still, Central Catholic didn’t give up.
Trailing 20-12 following a kill by Broussard, Central Catholic rallied, led by Knight, who put down several kills during the rally.
However, Broussard capped the first game with a kill.
In game two, Country Day took an early 5-1 lead, but Central Catholic rallied back and tied the game at 6 on a Country Day error and took the lead on Brittany Longman’s ace.
The Lady Eagles extended their lead to as much as 12-7 on a kill by Knight, prompting Country Day coach Julie Ibieta to call timeout.
Following the timeout, Country Day used the hitting of Bierria and Broussard to get back in the ball game.
Each had three kills as Country Day rallied to tie the game at 14.
Country Day took the lead for good at 15-14 on Bierria’s second, consecutive kill.
In game three, Central Catholic jumped out to as much as a 6-1 lead using Knight’s hitting at the net, an ace by Longman and Country Day errors.
Country Day’s Caroline Perlis’ hit out of bounds gave Central Catholic a 6-1 advantage.
Later in the game, Country Day rallied to take its only lead of the game at 14-13 on a kill by Broussard.
Central Catholic won the next point after the timeout on Knight’s kill to tie the contest and took the lead for good one point later.
While Country Day kept battling, the play of Knight and Brie Hill helped Central Catholic close out the game as Knight put down several kills, while Hill recorded several blocks during the latter part of the game.
Celine Flores closed out the game on a kill.
“In the third set … I asked them who’s going to shut her down?” Halverson said of Broussard. “Who’s going to do that and they all stepped up and they did that the third set, but she came back again in the fourth set strong. She just had it.”
In game four, Country Day bolted out to as much as a 13-4 lead following a Country Day kill.
Hitting and blocking helped Country Day take the large advantage.
But like it had before, Central Catholic continued to fight, but the lead was too large to overcome.
Other Lady Eagle contributors in the loss included Flores, two kills, eight digs and a block assist; Maria Templet, one assist, an ace and 10 digs; and Longman, two aces and two digs.
With the loss, Central Catholic must say goodbye to a group of seniors who has made three semifinal trips and a quarterfinal appearance.
“Afterwards, I had nothing bad to say to them. I didn’t even really shed any tears until I got out here and saw all of them crying,” Halverson said. “I thanked them for a great season. They really have led this program … to where it is right now. We’re expected to be at the Pontchartrain Center (and) it’s because of their hard work and their dedication. I really appreciate all that they’ve done.”
While the Lady Eagles will have some holes to fill, they could be primed for another run next year as they return all of their three top hitters.
“All of our big hitters are there,” Halverson said. “It’s just our workhorses are gone, so our sophomores are going to be expected to have some big shoes to fill, but they can do it. We have some really talented sophomores coming up and even lower, freshmen and eighth-graders, so the program’s still very hopeful even though we have a good graduating class leaving.”