Resilient St. Amant sweeps rival East Ascension

GONZALES — For the second time in three matches, the St. Amant High School volleyball team showed poise and resilience as it fought from behind in each game before putting away East Ascension 3-0 at the Spartans gym.

Last Wednesday against Episcopal School of Acadiana, the Gators dropped the first two games before rallying for the win.

It’s a trend that coach Allison Leake hopes is more of a passing fad for the Gators (15-9, 5-0 in District 3, Division I).

“I know we can come back,” Leake said. “But it’s also not something any coach wants where your kids (have to) come back all the time. It will catch up to you eventually.”

Kayla Braud topped the Gators attack with 10 kills and added five digs. Alli Duplechein had nine kills and two blocks, and Kara Gremillion was a steady defensive factor with 15 digs.

St. Amant, which so far has not dropped a game in district play, won the match with game-winning scores of 25-22, 25-21 and 25-20. The Gators scored the final three points to win games 1 and 2, and four of the last five in Game 3.

East Ascension (20-8, 3-2) led by as many as five points twice in Game 1, and three in Game 2. Carmisha Payton led the Spartans with eight kills and 10 digs.

Jesse Watts added six kills, but the Spartans’ power-hitting duo Chelsey Wilkinson and Tori Vincik were limited to four and five kills, respectively.

“We played well,” EA coach Jamie Gilmore said. “It was our own mistakes that killed us in the end. We led the first two games, but there were little things we should have done. It was nothing that we couldn’t handle.”

Both teams had their troubles handling the ball as they committed a combined 10 double-hit errors, a number that was evenly split between the two.

St. Amant’s Kelly Young had 31 assists while East Ascension’s Emily Venable finished with 23.

“If they’re calling double (hits) then you’re going to have to bump set,” Leake said. “Find another way because we don’t want that easy point going to the other team.”

In Game 1, there were seven ties and three lead changes. East Ascension led 12-10 when Braud was called for being in the net. Another net violation, a kill from Payton and a block by Vincik pushed the Spartans in front 16-11.

It was their largest lead of the night, and they matched it again at 17-12 on Vincik’s kill. St. Amant closed to within 20-18 before tying the score on consecutive setting error calls.

Watts’ block put EA up 22-20, but St. Amant tied it after a serving error and Braud’s winner. St. Amant closed with three straight points when Payton was called for being in the net, followed by a Spartan setting error and Braud’s kill.

Game two had eight ties and three lead changes, but St. Amant closed strong to win 25-21. East Ascension could never build a lead larger than three points, but led 20-18 before a final Gators’ surge.

Victoria Howell had two kills, and Duplechein added another helping St. Amant close the game out winning seven of eight points.

East Ascension led in the early going of game three, and tied the score 11-11 before falling behind for good. The biggest St. Amant lead was 19-14, but the Spartans rallied to get within 21-19.

A pair of hitting errors by Watts helped St. Amant stay in control, and Duplechein’s kill closed out the match for St. Amant with a 25-20 win.