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Louisiana state volleyball roundup: Metairie Park Country Day makes it eight straight titles

With Division IV title triumph, Northlake Christian wins first championship since 2009

LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA - The streak continues. 

Metairie Park Country Day won its eighth straight Division V volleyball state championship on Saturday morning at the Cajundome, defeating Westminster Christian 3-0 (25-10, 25-11, 25-21).

Cajuns coach Julie Ibieta said her team saved the best for last.

"This was the most complete game we played all season," she said. "I couldn't have asked for anything more. We were firing on all cylinders.

"We had our offense going, our defense going, and we served tough."

The top-seeded Cajuns (27-9) kept the Lady Crusaders off-balance with top-notch serves and took a 9-1 lead in the first set. Maggie Schneider had two aces. Elle Nunez had one.

"Their serves were 100% on point," Westminster senior Madison Marks said. "They were hard serves, right over the net. The ball would drop down and make it hard to get to, and they had that middle (Lia Beverly).

"She was able to place the ball. She could get up and put it down."

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Beverly recorded 10 kills and 2.5 blocks. Jane Gambel, who was named Most Outstanding Player, scored 14 kills. Gigi Dazet also had 10 kills with 1.5 blocks.

"This group's identity was different than any team we've had," Ibieta said. "It starts with how balanced we are offensively. In the past, one or two people would always lead us in kills and blocks.

"We have so many good athletes on this team that if someone was having a bad day, another would have a good day. Fortunately, everybody had a great day (Saturday)."

Schneider had 32 assists and 21 digs. Addison Launey added 18 digs for the Cajuns, who have won 14 championships in the last 15 years.

Both teams' rosters were light on seniors.

Country Day had 11 juniors. Westminster Christian, which will graduate only one senior in Marks, had three freshmen play a prominent role, including Sophia Wiltz (three blocks).

"She has always played right side or setter," Westminster coach Keith Leon said of Wiltz. "We moved her to the middle. She played outstanding (Saturday)."

Bethany Stoute and Laila Gauthier had six kills apiece for the Lady Crusaders (29-11). Stoute added four blocks. Anna Ware had 29 assists. Kristian Thomas had nine digs.

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It was the second straight runner-up finish for second-seeded Westminster, which lost in five sets to the Cajuns in 2022.

"Instead of rebuilding, we're reloading," Leon said. "Our district is probably the toughest with three teams (WCA, Ascension Episcopal and Episcopal School of Acadiana) in the top eight.

"We wiped our district out, and then played Ascension Episcopal again (in the semifinals). I think people know now that Westminster is going to be here every year."

Division IV Final

Northlake Christian 3, Notre Dame-Crowley 0

Northlake Christian won its first volleyball state championship since 2009, defeating Notre Dame-Crowley in three sets, 25-22, 25-8, 25-14, in the Division IV final at the Cajundome on Saturday.

The third-seeded Lady Wolverines, who had not advanced past the quarterfinals since their 2009 championship, breezed through the title game after pushing through five-set marathons vs. No. 6 Pope John Paul II and No. 2 John Curtis Christian in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

Abby Bailey, who was named Most Outstanding Player, notched 18 kills. The 6-foot junior scored at the net with a full wind-up in advance of each shot that sent the ball crashing onto the floor on the opposite side of the net.

"From watching film, we noticed they did a lot of stuff that attacked our weaknesses," Notre Dame coach Waylon Young said. "Just about everything we were concerned about (occurred).

"They are really good and are probably the deepest team in our division. They have five kids who can score, the setter is really good and they play good defense."

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Freshman Evie Burns totaled an incredible 11 blocks. Setter Abigail Drury contributed 38 assists and 14 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Khloe Duncan also had a standout effort.

"Our defense sets up around our blocks," Northlake Christian coach Lindsey Donovan said. "It's been a strength on and off, but nothing like (Saturday).

"(Saturday) was awesome."

The fifth-seeded Lady Pioneers finished with a 28-7 record. Valerie Brown had eight kills, 22 digs and an ace. Annalise Maloz added seven kills with two aces.

Also for Notre Dame, Ellen Cormier added 17 digs, while setters Gracie Bearb and Haleigh Melancon provided 14 and 22 assists, respectively.

"We had a rough start to the season," Bearb said. "We had a lot of ups and downs. I think we ended on a good note, even though we lost."

Photo of Metairie Park Country Day volleyball team

-- Mike Coppage | @SBLiveLA