Lady Pios cap remarkable season with Division IV title

CROWLEY – Notre Dame coach Tara Young knew early on that her 2012 Lady Pios’ volleyball team had a chance to be special.

Her intuition was spot on.

The Lady Pios capped off a yet another remarkable season on Saturday with a five-set victory over Newman in the Division IV state championship game at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center.

The title was Notre Dame’s third straight and fourth in the last six years.

“I felt like this was a championship caliber team,” said Young, whose squad finished the season with a record of 35-10. “Since the summer, I felt that way. It was just going to be a matter of us hitting our stride at the right time and not letting the course of the season take its toll on us.

“The girls just did a phenomenal job across the board. It took all 16 to practice like we needed to practice those last two weeks and it took all 16 to win.”

Young’s squad has shown that team concept all season long. Nearly every game, there was a different leader in the boxscore and when one or more players weren’t having their best night, someone else was always there to step up and fill that void.

“Our strength all year was that we could hurt you from all the positions,” said Young. “It was just a matter of who stepped up in a given game.”

In the title game, it was Grace Morgan who took her game to another level. The freshman middle hitter logged 16 kills en route to garnering Most Valuable Player honors.

“Morgan was definitely a force for us,” said Young. “Newman just had no answer for her. She was awesome and she was well deserving of the honor.”

Morgan, however, wasn’t the only player Newman had trouble with. Lindsey Meyer, the leader in the quarters and semifinals, and Megan Malmay had a number of kills as well and Taylor Boulet who racked up 60 digs.

“In the championship game, we had a fairly balanced attack. We had people stepping up and that’s what made us the team we are. It’s nice not to have to rely on just one or two people.”

The run

Notre Dame’s road to the 2012 state championship was a rocky one, especially midway through the season when the Lady Pios went through a rough stretch and went 4-8 in the span of three weeks.

Those eight losses, coupled with two earlier losses, were all to teams that advanced to the state quarterfinals and beyond.

Of their 10 losses, two were against eventual state champions - St. Thomas More and Mount Carmel - and three were against eventual state runnersup - St. Martinville, ESA and E.D. White.

The Lady Pios also beat St. Thomas More once and also owned a victory over Division III state champion Ursuline.

“Our schedule about took its toll this year,” said Young. “You have to have a tough schedule but you have to have some success there, too.

“The balance almost got out of whack this year, but the girls did everything we asked of them and they did it right down to the very end.

“They just were persistent, determined and they kept their head down and their eye on the goal. They never got ahead of themselves and all the credit goes to the girls.”

How Sweet it is

Of course, each of Notre Dame’s four state championships under Young have been memorable. But this year’s title is possibly the Lady Pios’ most impressive.

“In the other tournaments that we’ve won, we lost very few sets,” said Young. “This one, the quarterfinals were intense and the championship match was intense. So, it’s a sweet, sweet victory knowing that we were able to overcome a huge challenge.

“Our backs were against the wall in the quarterfinals and we were pushed to our limit in the championship match. I’m leaning towards thinking this one is a really sweet one. It was sweet because it was such a hard-fought victory.”

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