Lady Pios claim Division III state title
By: Eric Narcisse - prepballers.com
KENNER – One year after losing in the state finals, the Notre Dame Lady Pios are once again Division III state champions after they defeated Ursuline 25-16, 20-25, 25-14, 25-19 on Saturday at the Pontchartrain Center.
“This group had a huge amount of pressure placed on them coming into this season,” Lady Pios coach Tara Young said. “But they battled through it. They heard everyone saying that if they didn’t win a championship it would be a disappointment, but they didn’t let it get to them.
“To have that pressure since August 1st and accomplish the goal of winning a state championship is a great accomplishment. I couldn’t be any prouder of these girls.”
The Lady Pios dominated Ursuline in the first game, behind setter Mayme Cook, who turned in another stellar performance. Cook, who will play collegiately at Louisiana-Lafayette, finished the match with 14 kills and 28 assists.
“It feels amazing to win the state championship,” Cook said. “We had our bumps in the road this season, but after not winning it last year, this feels amazing.”
The championship marks the second state title in three years for the Lady Pios, who benefited from numerous players stepping up and enjoying solid games in the victory.
“We really wanted to win this match,” said Lady Pios’ Alaina Savoy, who finished the match tied for the team lead in kills with 14. “I just wanted to step up and help my team. I wanted to do what I could to help our seniors leave with a state title.”
Along with Cook and Savoy, the Lady Pios enjoyed solid performances from Kylie Pannell (12 kills), Taylor Simon (24 digs), Marie Ledet (19 assists), Mallory Chaisson (40 digs) and Taylor Boulet (21 digs).
“This match was a testament to our kids’ ability and talents,” Young said. “We played extremely well.”
The Lady Pios, who end the season 44-3 overall, never panicked despite dropping the second game of the match.
“The key to us winning this match was our ball control,” Young said. “We had great ball control in games one, three and four. In game two our ball control went out the door. But once we regained that, we were able to get back to the basics.”
Cook said the Lady Pios’ intensity was vital to their success.
“We were fired up,” Cook said. “We focused on our strengths and their weaknesses and came out ready to play..”
The Notre Dame Lady Pios continued its dominance over opponents Friday afternoon, sweeping the St. Louis Lady Saints 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 to advance to the Division III state finals.
It’s the third consecutive year the Lady Pios have advanced to the state finals, winning the championship in 2007.
“I really thought we played excellent today,” said Lady Pios coach Tara Young. “It was a little game of chess between the two teams. Kind of a game of strategy. It was a lot of fun.”
It may have been fun for Young and the Lady Pios, but not so much for the Lady Saints, who failed to execute its game plan of shutting down Notre Dame’s Mayme Cook. Cook finished the match with a match-high 14 kills and 12 assists.
“Mayme has really been stepping up to the challenge,” Young said. “She is understanding that teams are keying on her and she’s risen to the challenge. Teams are coming into matches against us saying ‘if we can stop 9 (Cook), we’ll be ok.’ But that’s a big ‘if’ because Mayme is so versatile. But we also have a lot of other weapons and so many other ways that we can attack you that makes it tough. But I am glad we have 9.”
Those other weapons were on display against St. Louis, as Kylie Pannell and Alaina Savoy recorded seven kills each, Marie Ledet recorded 17 assists, while Taylor Simon (19) and Mallory Chaisson (14) combined for 33 digs.
Even though they swept the Lady Saints, Young came away impressed with the performance turned in by St. Louis.
“We had beaten them pretty handedly the first two times we played them,” Young said. “But I knew they were a good opponent. They have good size and they are well-coached. They also typically have good ball control and they have some really good servers. I knew they wouldn’t go away easily and that we would have to make them go away.”
Although the Lady Pios have been the most dominant volleyball team in the Acadiana area, Young doesn’t want her team to feel like if they lose in the finals, the season is a disappointment.
“Last year was tough on us after losing in the finals,” Young said. “I don’t want to become that team where finishing second is considered failure. Now I can finally say it out loud that we want to win a state championship.”