Henderson, Nevanda- The Durango Fall Classic is well known as the toughest national high school volleyball tournament. Each year it attracts some of the strongest volleyball teams from across the nation. This is the fourth year that the Regents have been invited to participate, and each year the team has finished better than the year before. St. Lucy's looked to have a heck of a time continuing that trend this year, having finished 16th last year and with a changed format that allows only one team from each pool to advance to the top 16. Guess what? The Regents were up to the challenge.
The Regents made it through pool play today 3-0; getting past Faith Lutheran, Mater Dei and Coronado and earning an opportunity to advance to the Championship Bracket tomorrow. First up was Faith Lutheran. The Regents took care of their opponents quite handily with tough serving and ball control. Set one went to Lucy's 25-16. Game 2 was even more lopsided, with the Regents up 11-1 before they turned the ball over on a service error. Faith Lutheran was no contest for St. Lucys; Regents win set two 25-14. Stat leaders for the match were Juliet McClure (8 aces, 23 assists); Loryn Carter (1 block, 8 kills); Natalie Caro (5 kills, 4 digs); Sarah Bruchet (8 digs); Sydney Bast (6 kills) and Roni LaPierre (5 kills.)
Next up was heavily favored Mater Dei. The Monarchs were coming off of just having won the Dave Mohs tournament and are ranked number one in CIFSS for their division. It took three sets, but the Regents were able to pull off the win. The Regents started set one strong, taking the early lead on a tool off the block by Roni LaPierre and a crushing kill on an overpass by Loryn Carter. Lucy's built a 12-8 lead before Dan O'Dell called time out. Mater Dei came out of the time out focused and number 11's strong serving got them to a 12-12 knot. Back and forth it went from there with ties at 13, 14, 15, 17 and 18. O'Dell employed the old "time out trick" at 18-18, to Mater Dei's success. Next thing you know, the Regents are down 18-21 and calling time out. A couple of calls that did not go the Regents way and a couple of service errors later, game Mater Dei 25-22.
Set two started similarly to set one. Lucy's ball control made a big difference: perfect pass, led to perfect set, led to perfect kill. Regents up 8-4 at the Mater Dei time out. Mater Dei clawed their way back into contention, despite incurring injuries to their middle blocker and setter, on a five point service run by Tess Morales. St. Lucy's created space again after the 10-10 tie, taking a 14-10 lead on solid play. The Regents maintained the four point lead until late in the set when the Monarchs made a push to get within 1, 23-24. The Regents fought hard, LaPierre saving a ball that careened off the block that Loryn Carter put down in a cross court slam, giving the Regents the hard fought victory 26-24.
The format of this tournament is a little different. Instead of playing the third set to 15, the teams play a 25 point third set. It would not have mattered. Lucy's led at 15, and took it at 25. This time it was Mater Dei that got out to the early lead, up 5-1. St. Lucy's repeatedly hurt themselves with service and hitting errors and stayed down by 4 until mid set. A LaPierre put away on an overpass gave the Regents their first lead since 1-0, up 13-12. They never let it go again. LaPierre went into her bag of tricks and poked balls to the deep corners and tipped over the block. Carter went into crush mode. Bast and Bruchet were passing nails. Loryn tipped the last ball over the block and the Regents took set three 25-21. Stat leaders were LaPierre (20 kills, 14 digs, 4 assists), Carter (11 kills), McClure (29 assists, 2 aces, 7 digs), Bast (1 block, 13 digs, 6 kills), Caro (11 digs) and Bruchet (14 digs.)
The last match of the day was Coronado. They had St. Lucy's in size; but that was all they had over the Regents. Set one was played pretty closely by both teams until the middle of the set. Around the 12 point mark the Regents shifted into a higher gear. Rachel Cavanaugh went on a wicked serving streak at the end of the match that saw St. Lucy's to a 25-15 victory. Set two was more of the same. Although the Coronado height had the ability to give the Regents fits, the Lucy defense more than stood up to the height differential. The Regents would not let a ball drop, even if it meant kicking it up and into play, as LaPierre did on one occasion. Freshman Brennan Miller made a late set appearance and made her presence known with an ace service. Sydney Bast blasted a shot down the line to end the match, St. Lucy's 25-12. Stat leaders were McClure (5 digs, 20 assists), LaPierre (7 kills, 1 block, 4 digs), Bast (6 digs, 6 kills, 2 aces), Cavanaugh (3 aces, 1 block, 3 digs, 4 kills), Carter (5 kills) and Caro (7 digs, 2 kills.)
The Regents play tomorrow at Durango where they will face Lakewood in a first place finisher's cross-over match to determine which 8 teams will fight for the Championship and which 8 teams will drop to the silver bracket.
Durango, Nevada- The Regents had a rough go of it on the second day of the Durango Fall Classic. The cross-over match against Lakewood was a test and St. Lucy's continued to play high level volleyball. They lost in three, 22-25, 29-27, 22-25. I'm not going to bore you with the details, since it is now several days later. (Sorry. I got busy. Dock my pay.) Suffice it to say, the Regents left it all on the court and should be proud of their play. The loss sent the Regents to the silver division to finish out the tournament.
Next up was Assumption. With no time to rest between the Lakewood match and the Assumption match, the Regents came out listless, and never recovered. They lost to a very disciplined and smart team in two, kinda ugly- 11-25 and ?-25.
The final match of the day was against Xavier Prep. Roni LaPierre sat this match out to nurse the sprained ankle she suffered at the end of the Lakewood match, so Kelsie Remige got an opportunity to put in some quality minutes. Remige was a mystery to the opponent, befuddling them by sometimes hitting with her left arm, then switching up and hitting with her right. Unfortunately, the Regents did not have enough firepower and dropped the match in two sets, 17-25, 20-25.
The Regents end the tournament tied for 15th place, which is not too shabby in this deep and talented field. They played amazing and proved to themselves and many of the doubters out there that they can make some noise again this year!