Three area teams begin play at state volleyball tournament

By By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

Three area teams take the court at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner today as the state volleyball tournament begins.

Barbe is returning to the tournament for the first time since 2008. The No. 6 Bucs will face No. 3 Fontainebleau in a Division

I quarterfinal at 6:45 p.m.

St. Louis, the Division III runner-up last season, has reached the quarterfinal round or better every year since 2008. The

Saints are the No. 5 seed and play No. 4 Ben Franklin at 3:15 p.m. today.

Iota is the sixth seed in Division IV and will play No. 3 Newman at 6:45 p.m.

The Bucs reached the tournament by winning ending a five-year regional-round losing streak with a five-set victory over Covington.

“We are excited, the kids are pumped

about the opportunity to go to the Pontchartrain for the first time in a

long time,”

said Barbe head coach Jeremy White. “It is an opportunity to get

Barbe back on the volleyball map. It is going to take championship

volleyball — we are going to have to serve tough, swing

aggressively when we get the chance, play ball control and make the

other teams work hard. That is what elite teams do. They do not

all have massive amounts of power, but they keep the ball

in play and get it back over the net.”

White said he wants to see more of the toughness his team showed when it rallied from a fourth-set deficit in the win over

Covington.

“They played with a lot of heart,” he said. “It is tough to be down that far. It takes will and you have to really want it.

It is good for us to see we can fight back from those situations. It was nice to see the kids respond to the end and have

that we-are-not-going-home approach.”

The Saints won the 2006 Division III

championship and reached the semifinals in '09 and '10. The Saints have

lost to the eventual

champion each of the past four years.

Saints head coach Luke Pousson said on-the-fly changes are crucial at the tournament, when the level of competition rises.

“The types of defenses played against us will vary from team to team,” Pousson said. “You have to handle whatever is thrown

at you. Up to this point, it is important that you play your game. You focus more on your side of the net. Now you have to

handle whatever happens, whether it is good, bad or great.”

Pousson said familiarity with the festive atmosphere will help his team.

“Previous experience is huge because

you are playing in a different environment, it is a huge arena with

three big games going

on at the same time and you are playing in front of the biggest

crowd of the season,” he said. “Just being able to know what

it is like to be in that environment helps tremendously.”

Pousson said the Saints have good balance and a shot to take the Division III crown.

“We have served teams tough and been able to keep teams off of their offense because of that, we have blocked well and relied

on our big hitters getting big kills in key situations,” he said.

“I enjoy the tournament atmosphere. In our division, every team capable of winning. This is a chance to showcase how hard the

girls have worked all year.”