Could be a successful volleyball weekend for three

By Ron Brocato, Clarion Herald Sports

Winning a state volleyball championship never gets old to Mount Carmel head coach April Hagadone. Her Cubs have won five between 2010-2017.

Striving to coach the best program in her school’s division, Rebekka Bonnaffee wants to secure a first title for Archbishop Hannan.

And Cabrini’s mentor, Kasey Laird-Dennies, desires to provide the Crescents with a fourth state championship. In 2008, she not only led the Greg Castillo-coached team to a state title, but she also was named the Division II MVP for her brilliant performance.

These are three local Catholic schools that hope to share the spotlight on Nov. 10 at the Pontchartrain Center during the championship round of the Allstate Sugar Bowl State Volleyball Tournament.

The playoffs began on Nov. 1 with 13 schools in the Archdiocese of New Orleans represented. Eight remain “alive” for a shot of the sport’s No. 1 prize – a division championship.

Under Hagadone, the Cubs have positioned themselves as the Division I top seed and have easily moved through the playoffs into the quarterfinals to meet No. 24 H.L. Bourgeois on Nov. 8. That match looks like a ho-hummer that will serve to set the stage for a semifinal-round match against Baton Rouge nemesis St. Joseph’s Academy on Nov. 9. 

This is arguably the No. 1 volleyball rivalry in Louisiana.

Cubs vs. Redstickers 

These two schools have dueled through seven Division I championship matches between 2002 and 2017. Mount Carmel has prevailed in three (2014, 2016 and 2017) at the expense of the Redstickers, and SJA has won four (2002, 2007, 2009 and 2013). 

Mount Carmel has two semifinal-round wins over SJA in 2006 and 2011.

The two find themselves on the same side of the bracket and would meet in the semifinal round if the No. 4 seed Stickers get past No. 5 Mande­ville.

But having beaten SJA three times this season, this match appears to be a stepping stone for the Cubs (39-2) to face one of four teams in their quest to win four consecutive titles. They are No. 2 and district rival Archbishop Chapelle, No. 3 Dutchtown, No. 6 Fontaine­bleau or No. 7 St. Amant. 

Across the lake, Bonnaffee has fine-tuned Hannan into a Division IV power. The Hawks (38-6) may be her finest team since she won the Division III crown at St. Louis High of Lake Charles in 2006.

Hannan’s losses came against St. Thomas More (No. 3 in Division III), Mount Carmel, Chapelle and twice to Cabrini.

The Hawks rolled over Bogalusa and Riverside Academy, and now have a quarterfinal date with Academy of the Sacred Heart on Nov. 8. Hannan  has beaten the Cardinals this season in two games.

A win would put Bonnaffee’s squad into the semifinal round against another power and northshore rival, Pope John Paul II. 

The Jaguars have been a juggernaut in Division IV since 2014. They have won the state championship over the past four years and have beaten Hannan for the title in 2015 and 2016, and in the 2017 semifinals.

But the injury to the Jags’ best player, Ansley Tullis, has been a setback. As a result, they hold a 21-10 record.

The No. 1 seed in Division II is Teurlings Catholic (36-2), and for good reason. The Rebels have lost just five of 105 sets, and their only setbacks came out of the division to Mount Carmel and Hannan.

But Laird-Dennies has the Crescents (27-9) peaking at the right time and holds tournament wins over Ellender and St. Scholastica.

Also alive entering the quarterfinal round are Archbishop Chapelle, which defeated West Monroe and Airline after posting a remarkable 30-10 record under first-year head coach Anne Marie Stelly. Two of the Chipmunks’ victories came against quarterfinal-round foe, St. Amant.

Sacred Heart (20-15) eliminated Port Allen and neighborhood rival Newman to advance to the quarterfinals. The win over Newman was the Cardinals’ third over the Greenies this season.

De La Salle (23-11) is schedule to meet Westlake (28-7), and Ursuline (22-20) will face Vandebilt Catholic (33-9) in other Division III matches.

Dominican, Academy of Our Lady, St. Charles Catholic, St. Mary’s and St. Katharine Drexel Prep were eliminated in earlier rounds.

Ron Brocato can be reached at rbrocato@clarionherald.org.

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