STM’s ability to adapt nets Division IV title
It’s crazy, because we faced some adversity. We changed our lineup just last week and we just never missed a beat.” Jessica burke, St. Thomas More coach
KENNER — New lineup? No problem.
Just before the state tournament, St. Thomas More sophomore outside hitter Caroline Adams broke her hand in practice, requiring coach Jessica Burke to make some quick changes. In her place went senior defensive specialist Sarah Arceneaux.
All the shuffling might have explained why it took the top-seeded Cougars five sets to beat Belle Chasse in the quarterfinals on Thursday, but Friday they swept defending-champion Cabrini to avenge last year’s championship-match loss.
And then Saturday night Lafayette-based STM overpowered district rival St. Martinville 25-14, 25-22, 25-13, to win its second Division II
title in three years as the Louisiana High School Athletic Association/State Farm State Volleyball Tournament came to a close.
“We came definitely ready to play in this tournament,” said Burke, the former player at Newberry College in South Carolina and coach at Troy University in Alabama.
“It’s crazy, because we faced some adversity. We changed our lineup just last week and we just never missed a beat. We just kept getting better as the tournament went on. I’m really proud of my kids.”
Senior Kali Calkins, named the match MVP, had 10 kills and four aces to go with 13 digs as the Cougars improved to 31-10. Junior Jaime Landry led STM with 11 kills and added two aces and junior setter Emma McKay had 39 assists.
“Winning this year and winning freshman year are two completely things,” said Landry, the only freshman starter on the 2010 STM title team.
“This year because I’m a junior I have more of a leadership role and I knew more about everything that was going on.
“Freshman year I was kind of, ‘Yay, I won state.’ It was a big deal, but I didn’t understand it and now I know what a big deal it is to win state.”
St. Martinville (32-12) was in the championship match for the first time since winning the 1988 state title. This was its fourth loss to STM this season, two of those coming in district play.
Junior middle Chanelle Gardner led with 15 kills and nine blocks, but her team fell behind from the start in the first set and, despite having plenty
of chances in both of the next two sets, could never close the gap.
“It’s a little disappointing,” said Lucina Mason, a former St. Martinville player herself and longtime assistant coach at her alma mater before taking over as head coach six years ago.
“But overall I’m proud of the girls. It’s tough and we gave our best.”