Dominican, Newman, Country Day set to defend state volleyball titles in Lafayette
There is no question that the Greater New Orleans area is the dominant force in LHSAA volleyball.
That has been evident over the last several years with state champions crowned.
It is the case again in 2023.
Half the 40 teams (20) who have reached the state tournament in Lafayette beginning Thursday are from the New Orleans area while four others are from Bayou country.
That includes three defending state champions from the area.
In Division I, Dominican (40-2) is seeking its fourth straight state championship under Jessica Chatellier, led by LSU beach volleyball commit Cam Chatellier.
Dominican faces a familiar foe in No. 9 Fontainebleau (26-15).
Dominican downed Fontainebleau in three sets at the St. Joseph’s Academy tournament on Sept. 22.
“We know we have a target on us from the start of the season,” coach Chatellier said. “Every team brings its best against us. These kids have been very willing to get in the gym. They coined it as becoming a moving target and have been determined to get better every single day. Division I has good teams. Every team is good and the rankings aren’t necessarily indicative of how good they are. Northshore was a 27th-seed and was very good. We played Fontainebleau in a tournament but have not played them in a best-of-five match. They have some big guns. We have not seen Slidell or Sam Houston.”
The rest of the Division I quarterfinalists are a bit more familiar.
“We know the other side of the bracket quite well,” Chatellier said. “Of course, we see Mount Carmel and Chapelle regularly. We have been trying not to focus on winning four straight but to take things one day at a time. We will not overlook anyone and remain disciplined in preparation for what is in front of us.”
No. 2 seed Mount Carmel Academy (28-7) faces No. 7 Ruston (28-12). The Cubs eliminated the Bearcats 25-7, 25-18, 25-9 in the regional round of the 2022 playoffs.
No. 4 Slidell (34-5) takes on No. 5 Sam Houston (35-7) while No. 11 Archbishop Chapelle (22-18) faces No. 3 Dutchtown (34-8). The Griffins defeated the Chipmunks 25-21, 25-4, 22-25, 25-21 on Sept. 26.
In Division II, defending state champ St. Thomas More (31-5) is the top seed. The Cougars face No. 9 Assumption (20-22) in the quarterfinals. St. Thomas More defeated Assumption 25-9, 25-18, 25-8 in the semifinals last year.
Ben Franklin (35-7) is the second seed. The Falcons of Kim Buford battle District 8-II foe and No. 10 seed Kenner Discovery (21-12). Ben Franklin handled the Swamp Owls 25-14, 25-12, 25-10 on Oct. 25.
No. 4 St. Scholastica (24-13) faces District 5-II rival No. 12 Lakeshore (16-15). The Doves defeated the Titans 28-30, 25-16, 25-10, 25-15 in district play.
No. 6 Academy of Our Lady (27-9) battles traditional power and third seed Teurlings Catholic (28-12). The Rebels eliminated the Penguins 25-15, 25-13, 25-14 in the quarterfinals a year ago.
In Division III, top seed Archbishop Hannan (38-2) squares off with No. 8 Haynes Academy (28-11). The Hawks downed the Yellow Jackets 25-14, 25-15 on Oct. 7.
In Division IV, defending state champion and No. 1 seed Newman (35-7) will take on No. 8 Thomas Jefferson (21-23).
Greenies coach Colleen Loerzel likes where her team is.
“This group has handled being the champion very well,” Loerzel said. “We spent the first part of the year trying to figure out who we are this year. They rose to the challenge and I feel they have a really good identity. They are excited, focused and ready for whatever comes our way. We know Thomas Jefferson will be scrappy and play hard.”
Newman has played a tough schedule, including in District 8-IV, which features quarterfinalists John Curtis Christian and Academy of the Sacred Heart of New Orleans.
“Three teams from our district are in the final eight,” Loerzel said. “That is exciting and great for volleyball in New Orleans. We have faced Notre Dame many times and are friends with the coaches. That is a great program. Calvary Baptist was there last year. Northlake Christian and Pope John Paul II have rich traditions and have been there before. There are a lot of friends.”
The prospect of winning a second straight state title is real but it is not the deal Newman is focusing on.
“We don’t talk about repeating as champion,” Loerzel said. “We will play each match in front of us. We are simply focused on leaving it all on the court. Wherever that leaves us, we’ll walk off the court with our heads held high.”
No. 3 Northlake Christian (32-7) battles District 5-IV rival No. 6 Pope John Paul II (23-8). The Jaguars reached the final a year ago and defeated the Wolverines 7-25, 25-5, 25-18 in the semifinals last year. This season, the two rivals split a pair of regular season matchups.
In another quarterfinal matchup of local teams, it is a rematch of a quarterfinal match of last season as No. 2 John Curtis Christian (32-8) faces No. 7 Academy of the Sacred Heart of New Orleans (27-14).
John Curtis defeated the Cardinals 25-10, 25-20, 25-19 on Oct. 10. Sacred Heart outlasted John Curtis in five sets in last year’s quarterfinals.
In Division V, seven-time defending state champion Country Day (24-9) will take on No. 9 Episcopal of Acadiana (19-19).
Julie Ibieta has presided over all seven titles.
“We actually have a lot of returners from last year so we don’t feel we are inexperienced,” Ibieta said. “We are probably more balanced this year offensively. We have a lot of weapons. We played a very tough schedule so we feel we are ready to take on any challenges. We are excited about the opportunity.”
The Cajuns will face a tough opponent in the quarterfinals.
“Episcopal of Acadiana is scrappy and have a couple of nice hitters,” Ibieta said. “They are better than a ninth seed. They played a tough schedule. They are a creative offense that keeps themselves in every rally. The main thing is to focus one match at a time. We are trying to prepare to play in the big arena at the Cajundome. That’s the most important thing, to get them familiar with their surroundings. The kids feel some pressure as the target of others. They are their own team to figure their own ways to wins. I feel we are playing our best right now and we have to do that three days in a row now.”
No. 5 McGehee (23-9) battles No. 4 Central Catholic (19-16). The Hawks reached the quarterfinals while the Eagles reached the semifinals a year ago.
LHSAA State Volleyball Tournament Schedule
Thursday, November 8
(9) Fontainebleau vs. (1) Dominican, 8 p.m. Court 1
(5) Sam Houston vs. (4) Slidell, 6:10 p.m. Court 2
(11) Archbishop Chapelle vs. (3) Dutchtown, 8 p.m. Court 2
(7) Ruston vs. (2) Mount Carmel Academy, 8 p.m. Court 3
(9) Assumption vs. (1) St. Thomas More, 6:10 p.m. Court 3
(12) Lakeshore vs. (4) St. Scholastica, 2:30 p.m. Court 2
(6) Academy of Our Lady vs. (3) Teurlings Catholic, 6:10 p.m. Court 1
(10) Kenner Discovery vs. (2) Ben Franklin, 4:20 p.m., Court 3
(8) Haynes Academy vs. (1) Archbishop Hannan, 12:40 p.m. Court 3
(5) St. Michael vs. (4) Catholic (NI), 4:20 p.m. Court 1
(6) Vandebilt Catholic vs. (3) Parkview Baptist, 2:30 p.m. Court 3
(7) Lafayette Christian Academy vs. (2) E.D. White Catholic, 10:50 a.m. Court 2
(8) Thomas Jefferson vs. (1) Newman, 10:50 a.m. Court 3
(5) Notre Dame vs. (4) Calvary Baptist, 4:20 p.m. Court 2
(6) Pope John Paul II vs. (3) Northlake Christian, 9 a.m. Court 3
(7) Academy of Sacred Heart (NO) vs. (2) John Curtis Christian, 10:50 a.m.
(9) Episcopal of Acadiana vs. (1) Country Day, 2:30 p.m. Court 1
(5) McGehee vs. (4) Central Catholic, 12:40 p.m. Court 1
(6) Ascension Catholic vs. (3) Ascension Episcopal, 9 a.m. Court 1
(7) Central Private vs. (2) Westminster Christian (Opelousas), 9 a.m. Court 2
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