Westlake serves up playoff win

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WESTLAKE — Using its powerful play at the net and accurate serves, Westlake swept district rival Leesville 25-10, 25-7, 25-15 Tuesday in the bi-district round of the Division III volleyball playoffs.

No. 5 Westlake had 41 kills and 18 aces. Jena Johnson had 15 kills and Keonda Johnson picked up 10. Catherine Armentor and Riley Rhodes led Westlake with six and four aces, respectively.

"I thought the girls did well, coming out strong," Westlake head coach Gloria Fontenot said. "We have been trying to focus on serves and I felt like they got stronger with that and hitting spots."

Fontenot said she feels her team is strong enough to make a return trip to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association state tournament next week in Kenner. Westlake lost to Ursuline Academy in the quarterfinals last year.

"I think that we are strong all the way around offensively and defensively," Fontenot said. "I don’t think there is a weak point in our game.

"To make the run, we have to have that fire, heart and desire. It is not going to a be walk in the park. If they bring that, I think we have the talent to make a good run."

The Rams (29-7) will play the winner of No. 12 Iota (20-21) and No. 21 Church Point (18-19) in the regional round either Thursday or Friday.

Normally Westlake would have received a bye in the first round with a top-eight seed, but due to a rule change in January, all volleyball brackets reverted to a 32-team format for the first time since 2008. Fontenot said she saw some positives and negatives in the change.

"It is a playoff game and it gives you the feel of a playoff game," she said. "But typically we do take this time to rest and focus on things we need to clean up or scout a team."

Westlake swept the Wampus Cats (9-20) in two regular-season matches and used a 15-3 run to break open the first set led by two aces each from Rhodes and Armentor and three kills by Jena Johnson.

Westlake jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the second set, but ran into trouble in the third set.

"We let a few things go in the third, but I think that was a lack of focus at that point and they did a good job coming back and pulling it off," Fontenot said.

No. 28 Leesville twice cut the lead to three points. Aaliyah Hameed’s back-to-back aces cut Westlake’s lead to 16-13, but the Rams finished the match on a 9-2 run with Johnson producing five knee-buckling kills.

Westlake 3, Leesville 0

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