By Ron Brocato, Sports
Pope John Paul II: record 24-2. Mount Carmel Academy: record 23-4.
They have two things in common as high school volleyball teams: They are defending state champions, and they are again ranked at the top of their respective divisions as the regular season winds down.
Also ranked among the top five teams in each bracket, according to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s most recent – yet unofficial – power rankings, are Ursuline Academy, No. 2 in Division III; St. Scholastica, No. 4 in Division II; and Archbishop Hannan, No. 5 in Division IV.
I would expect all five to make it to the Pontchartrain Center for the state tournament Nov. 9-11.
I also have confidence that Cabrini, the Academy of Our Lady, Dominican and Archbishop Chapelle will make it to the quarterfinal round.
Pope John Paul II is a shoo-in. The Lady Jaguars have not lost a match in the state this year. The two L’s came in out-of-state tournaments.
And they swept young but powerful reigning Division I champion Mount Carmel, 25-19, 25-13, 25-16 in a Sept. 26 match at home.
If you are a high school volleyball fan, circle the date Oct. 21 for a trip to Lafayette where Pope John Paul II will face undefeated Division II leader Teurlings Catholic in a 1 p.m. match.
The top power teams in each of the five bracketsare:
Division I – 1. Mount Carmel, 2. Acadiana (11-3), 3. East Ascension (18-4), 4. Barbe (15-4), 5. Ponchatoula (13-7).
Dominican (16-7) is No. 12 and Chapelle (18-10), No. 19.
Division II – 1. Teurlings Catholic (17-0), 2. South Lafourche (18-5), 3. Ben Franklin (12-4), 4. St. Scholastica (14-4), 5. Lee Magnet (24-4).
Cabrini (13-7) is ranked No. 10, and Academy of Our Lady (11-4) No. 15.
Division III – Parkview Baptist (20-3), 2. Ursuline (20-4), 3. Vandebilt Catholic (16-4), 4. St. Michael (15-3), 5. Springfield (20-4).
De La Salle is No. 21 and would be a traveler in the first round of the playoffs, but the Cavaliers are much improved beyond their record of 5-13. Their losses are to teams that carry a composite record of 190 wins to just 67 losses.
Division IV – 1. Pope John Paul II, 2. Riverside (19-5), 3. Notre Dame (21-7), 4. University Lab (12-5), 5. Archbishop Hannan (11-7).
The Academy of the Sacred Heart (6-6) is ranked No. 11, and St. Mary’s Academy (5-9) is No. 18.
Division V – 1. McGehee (22-0), 2. Country Day (16-2), 3. Ascension Episcopal (19-4), 4. St. John (10-4), 5. St. Martin’s (15-5).
St. Katharine Drexel Prep (7-9) is ranked No. 17.
The rankings provided two surprises. St. Joseph’s Academy, which hasn’t been ranked lower than No. 4 in the past five years of seeding teams, is at No. 11 in the latest Division I rankings, and defending Division II titlist St. Thomas More is No. 12.
Ron Brocato can be reached at email@example.com.