Since winning its last state volleyball championship in 2006, the ESA Lady Falcons have lost in the finals every year.
After defeating district rival Ascension Episcopal in three sets 25-20, 25-13 and 25-20 on Friday to return to championship game for the sixth consecutive year, the Lady Falcons are hoping this is the year they end the drought.
If the Lady Falcons are going to win state championship No. 18, they will have to do so against a familiar foe in Country Day — a team they’ve lost to in the finals each of the past three years. The Lady Falcons and Country Day will battle today at 11 a.m. in the Division V finals at the Pontchartrain Center.
“This is pretty much what we kind of expected,” Lady Falcons head coach Julie Dawson said. “We’re very excited to face Country Day. This is what you would want for a state championship match, to have the top two teams from a division facing off head to head for the finals. This will be the fourth consecutive year ESA has played Country Day in the finals, but the third straight for me. Hopefully the third time’s the charm.”
This will be Dawson’s fifth appearance in a state championship game as a head coach, having led the Lady Falcons for a third time and St. Thomas More twice. But for her career, Dawson is 0-4 in state finals matches and hopes that elusive crown will be captured today.
“All you can do is everything you can to prepare your team for a match,” Dawson said. “There’s a lot that goes into winning a state championship. You need talent, skill, a little bit of strategy and luck on your side.”
In the victory over Ascension Episcopal, the Lady Falcons were led by Carla Dibbs (19 digs, 2 blocks, 13 kills, 2 aces), Avery Munson (9 digs, 3 kills, 2 assists, 1 ace, 1 block), Eleanor Schutte (7 digs), Adela Munson (7 digs, 1 block, 34 assists), Bailey Brown (4 kills, 2 digs, 1 block), Elasha Williams (3 digs, 5 blocks, 1 assist, 16 kills) and Meredith Gates (28 digs, 1 kill).
“ESA is very talented and they have more weapons than we do offensively,” AES head coach Jill Braun said. “They hit the ball well against us, but we made them earn every point. We were able to walk away from the match knowing that ESA had beaten us and that we didn’t beat ourselves.”