Lady Pios clinch district volleyball title

NEW IBERIA – Tara Young’s volleyball teams have never lost a district match during her 13-year tenure at Notre Dame.

And with that streak on the line last week when Young led her squad to a pivotal showdown with district foe and defending Division II state champion Catholic High of New Iberia, the Lady Pios didn’t let her down.

Notre Dame won its ninth straight match of the season, sweeping the Lady Panthers for the second time this season, this time by the scores of 25-12, 25-22, 25-20.

The win secured the league title and with just one district game against winless W. St. Mary remaining, the streak appears to be alive for another season.

Notre Dame set the path for this match on the very first point. Mallory Chiasson dug the opening serve with a perfect pass to the middle net. Alex Miller pushed a set just off the left outside and Megan Malmay slammed a kill to the floor in the heart of the Catholic defense.

Alaina Savoy blasted a spike kill on the next serve return and after an exchange of net serves, The Pios led 3-1. Allison Leonards then scorched a kill untouched past CHNI blockers to start a run of 16 straight Notre Dame points.

Taylor Boulet dropped in three service aces over the 16-point run and kept the Panthers scrambling with a mix of well placed serves that resulted in repeated kill opportunities. Savoy and Leonards each knocked down two kills and Alex Miler kept the run going by pushing a well-placed winner from out of bounds on the right side and just over the net to the left sideline.

Catholic did not have a ball touch the floor on the Pios side of the court until their first kill of the match to make it 19-2. The Pios cruised home on winners from Malmay, Leonards and Marie Ledet to take the first game.

You don’t win a title without players and the scrappy Panthers showed their stuff by taking a 5-4 lead in game two. Katherine Kirsch turned the momentum with a block kill and then a quick set kill to put ND up 7-5.

CHNI responded and the teams battled back and forth, exchanging the lead 10 times until Megan Malmay got her fourth kill of the game to tie it at 21. Leading 24-22, Savoy took a middle set and blasted a kill off the floor to end the second game.

The Lady Pios displayed balanced scoring from an array of weapons across the net with seven different players logging kills. Malmay led with nine winners and 7 digs, Savoy had 8 kills and 6 digs and Leonards recorded 7 kills and 13 digs.

That trio scored winners to keep the Pios ahead 11-9 to start game three. After a Catholic timeout, the scoring leaders came back to each drop home kills and push the lead to 17-13. Miller and Ledet got kills to head off a Panther rally and keep the Pios ahead 23-18.

Savoy took a quick set and pounded the Panthers with a kill for a 24-19 advantage. Catholic put together a return winner to cut the Pios lead to 24-20 and on the Panthers serve, Chiasson and Miller went to work with a pass and set to Leonards and the senior sent a fireball kill to the floor for game and match point.

Chiasson logged 24 digs and Miller had 16 assists to go with two kills, three digs and an ace. Kirsch added 3 kills and a block and Ledet had 18 assists, 3 kills, digs and 3 aces. Boulet recorded 7 digs along with the three aces and Lindsey Meyer had a kill to round out the Pios scoring.

The win moved Notre Dame to 20-9 on the season, 7-0 against Division II opponents and 5-0 in league play. The Pios, who this week had moved up to the No. 2 spot in the power rankings, travelled to the Newman tournament this weekend.

Notre Dame was scheduled to play Carver, Chappelle and division opponents Dunham and Newman in pool play. After wins this week over Iota, Teurlings, St. Louis, Sam Houston and Catholic, the Pios could push for the top seed before returning home Tuesday to face West St. Mary.

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