Much had been made about the talented volleyball players Notre Dame lost from last year’s championship team, so much so that despite their success over the year many people felt it hard to believe the Lady Pios would be able to compete for a state championship this season.
Boy, were they wrong.
Behind an outstanding performance from freshman Grace Morgan, the Lady Pios achieved their ultimate goal of winning a state championship this season by defeating Newman in five sets 19-25, 25-14, 26-24, 17-25 and 15-8 in the Division IV finals on Saturday at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner.
“I can’t tell you how proud of these kids we are,” Lady Pios head coach Tara Young said. “These kids have done everything that we have asked of them all season and all year long our season had all of the makings of being an incredible season. Winning this championship is so gratifying, satisfying and rewarding. What an awesome experience.”
The state title on Saturday makes it three state championships in a row and is the fourth state championship in the history of the Lady Pios’ volleyball program.
“This group stay committed to their goals and didn’t get sidetracked,” Young said. “When I think about the fact that we’ve won four state championships in six years, it really gives me goose bumps. Honestly, you can’t even dream up something like this. It doesn’t even sound real to say that we have won four state championships in six years.”
Young feels “extremely blessed” to be the head coach of a volleyball program that has been able to enjoy the amount of success over the years as the Lady Pios have been able to.
“To take a volleyball team out of western Louisiana that’s been on the map for football and not so much for volleyball is truly a blessing,” Young said. “God is great. It’s just so awesome and we are all very grateful.”
Against Newman, the Lady Pios survived a match that went back and forth, but most importantly for Young showed her they had it all to win a hard fought match.
“The match was phenomenal,” Young said. “It was hard fought, exhausting and exciting match. Anyone who loves competition, this match had all of the elements. Newman was great. This was a fun match.”
The Lady Cougars had several players step up to turn in solid performances, it was Morgan that put STM on her back and propelled them to victory. Morgan recorded a match-high 16 kills en route to garnering state finals Most Valuable Players honors.
“Morgan was definitely a force for us tonight,” Young said. “Newman had no answer for her. Taylor Boulet played an outstanding match as well. She had 60 digs, but Grace was an unstoppable force. An a team we played extremely well when Grace was in the game.”
Besides the individual performances turned in by Morgan and Boulet, Young cited the Lady Pios’ ability to adjust throughout the game as a large key to their success.
“Our girls did a great job of adapting and making changes on the fly,” Young said. “Being able to make changes and adjustments during the game was critical for us.”