KENNER — No. 11 Highland Baptist entered Friday’s Division V volleyball semifinals at the Pontchartrain Center against No. 2 Central Catholic having already recorded back-to-back playoff upsets.
While the Bears started their semifinal match with a game one victory, Highland Baptist’s magical, record-setting season would come to an end as Central Catholic won three straight contests for a 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-16) win.
While the Bears’ (27-16) season ended, the squad didn’t go down without a fight.
“They just fought and fought and fought even up until the end of that game,” Central Catholic coach Latashia Wise said. “It was never a moment when I could say I just knew we were going to win, and that’s what it’s about at this time of the year, at this round.”
Highland Baptist coach Brigette Boudreaux impressed upon her team that they hold the distinction as the lone Highland Baptist squad to both make the state tournament and the semifinals.
“We were in the top four in the state, and that’s something special,” Boudreaux said.
After upsetting No. 3 Academy of Sacred Heart of Grand Coteau in straight sets in Division V quarterfinal action Thursday, Highland Baptist won the first set against District 6-V foe, Central Catholic, Friday.
“Once they got a taste of what it could be and realized that we were good enough to make it here, we were going for it all, and we wanted to make sure that we executed what we could do against Central Catholic to make them sweat,” Boudreaux said.
While Central Catholic (32-11) had Yani Johnson, who had 32 kills, two blocks and three aces, Highland Baptist’s Marin Barras, who recorded 20 kills and 13 digs, attacked the Lady Eagles’ defense.
In game one, Highland took as much as a six-point lead on two occasions, the last at 21-15 on Barras’ ace.
The Lady Eagles, who fell in straight sets Saturday in the finals to Metairie Park Country Day, cut their deficit to 21-19, but Highland scored four of the set’s next seven points to win the game.
In game two, Central Catholic took the lead for good at 7-6 and its lead grew to as much as seven at 18-11 on Johnson’s ace.
However, Highland made a 6-1 run to cut its deficit to 19-17.
Central Catholic responded with a 6-0 run to win game three.
In game three, the Lady Eagles jumped out to an 8-2 lead, but Highland Baptist battled back and cut its deficit to 13-12 after back-to-back aces by Molly Touchet.
For the rest of game three, Central Catholic’s lead grew to no more than four points before the Lady Eagles closed the match on Johnson’s kill.
In game four, Central Catholic jumped out to a 10-3 lead, but the Bears rallied to cut their deficit to 10-7 on a kill by Barras. Highland closed the gap again to 19-14 on the second of two more kills by Barras.
However, Central Catholic scored six of the match’s next eight points, closing it with a kill by Johnson for a 25-16 win.
Other top Highland Baptist contributors were Brianna Sensley, two aces, 36 assists and 22 digs; Mitchell, 12 kills and 13 digs; and Jasey Roy, five blocks.
Katie Hoffpauir added 44 assists for Central Catholic.