Forty volleyball teams from throughout Louisiana will converge on the Ponchartrain Center in Kenner and will continue their quests today at becoming state champions.
Four of those teams represent Southwest Louisiana in the top three divisions.
In Division I the Barbe Bucs are the lone local team that didn’t receive a first-round bye to make it to the state tournament. They reached Kenner thanks to a straight-sets victory over district rival Comeaux in the second round.
“The biggest thing about the Comeaux game was that our girls were really excited because it was a rubber match,” said Barbe head coach Jeremy White. “We came out very strong from the beginning and really brought it.”
The Bucs are led by Courtney LaFargue, Peyton Montgomery and Ebony Lewis and will look to parlay their strong playoff run into something special.
“We are peaking at the right time,” White said. “The big thing for us is that we have some strong kids in the middle, good ball control and a four-year starter at setter, so right now we just need to make sure that we are prepared mentally.”
Barbe will start the tournament against No. 2 Mount Carmel in the quarterfinals tonight. The winner will play H.L. Bourgeois or Archbishop Chapelle in the semifinals on Friday.
“We have to be hungry,” White said. “Last year we stepped into the state tournament on the timid side, so this year, if they can keep their hunger to win, we should be good. Right now you aren’t going to improve much with practice, it is all about who is more mentally prepared.”
In Division II the Sam Houston Broncos will look to ride the momentum of their five-set nail-biter victory over Assumption.
“That win was huge, especially being the qualifying match for state tournament, and our seniors haven’t been there since they were freshmen,” said Sam Houston head coach René Fontenot. “It was important to have the higher seed and home-court advantage because Assumption is such a good team.”
The Broncos will play tonight against No. 2 Lakeshore. The winner will meet the Breaux Bridge-Vandebilt Catholic winner in Friday’s semifinals.
“We need to do the little things well to enable the big plays,” Fontenot said. “This is a game of errors and you don’t have to have the best hitters, you just have to have a lot of ball control. We are healthy for the first time in three weeks and hopefully we can put it all together now.”
Southwest Louisiana has two representatives — St. Louis and Iota — in Division III.
The Saints finished Berwick in straight sets on Monday and now turn their focus to perennial state contender Ursuline in the quarterfinals. Parkview Baptist or E.D. White await the winner on Friday.
The Bulldogs owned Southwest Louisiana’s highest seed entering the playoffs and made quick work of North Vermilion on Monday. They will meet Lutcher today in the quarterfinals. The winner will face Teurlings Catholic or Rayne in Friday’s semifinals.