“We feed off of them. We love to make them stand up and yell.” Jay Jay Juan, Ursuline Academy on fans of his team’s fans
KENNER — When coach Jay Jay Juan took his first Ursuline Academy volleyball team to the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner four years ago and won the Division III title, he said he had to tell his fans to follow him there.
It’s not like that any more.
A legion of Lions fans turned out on Saturday to watch as Ursuline won its second straight state championship and its third in four years with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over E. D. White. And Juan gave them credit as the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Farm State Volleyball Tournament concluded on Saturday.
“We feed off of them,” Juan said of the UA fans. “We love to make them stand up and yell.”
They did a lot of that.
Saturday afternoon’s match between two perennial volleyball powerhouses was a fight to the finish.
After dropping the first game and the third, the Lions rallied to take the tie-breaker and win the match, 19-25, 25-20, 24-26, 25-16, 15-9.
Lauren Barre led the Lions with 15 kills. Sydney Morris followed with 10 and added six blocks.
Erin Regouffre added four aces and had 20 digs. Megan Johnson had 24 assists and Sarah Tyson had 37 digs.
But E.D. White junior Emily Weimer was named the MVP after finishing with 20 kills and 24 blocks.
Having beaten the defending state champs in the annual Spooktacular Tournament late last month, E. D. White coach Mary Cavell said she thought this year’s team might just have what it would take to finish at the top. But she said she also got to see how balanced and solid the Lions are on defense. Their serves were spot on as well, she said.
“We knew what to expect,” she said.
E. D. White started strong, taking the first game rather quickly.
But Ursuline recovered in the second to win 25-20. The third game was tight, with both teams going back and forth for every point. The game was tied at 19, 20, 23 and 24 before Weimer scored a kill to make it 25-24. Madison Rodrigue put down the game-winner.
But the Cardinals faltered.
“I hoped we’d be able to ride that momentum into the fourth game, but we just couldn’t,” Cavell said.
Instead, Ursuline pulled away from a 5-5 tie to take a relatively easy 25-16 win and force a tiebreaker. After ties at 6, 7 and 8, the Lions pulled away to victory.
Instead, Ursuline took it, and took advantage of Cardinals mistakes to take Game 4 and, ultimately, the tiebreaker. E. D. White.