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Braves top Mustangs in tourney

H.L. Bourgeois's Shannon Jones (5) blocks Assumption's Erineka Mollere (4) in the finals of the Lady Braves Classic Saturday. (Photo by Keyon Jeff/Correspondent)

GRAY — Whenever H.L. Bourgeois and Assumption get together on the volleyball court, the quality of play is always high and intense.

The teams didn't disappoint Saturday in the Division Blue final of the Lady Braves Classic.

H.L. Bourgeois outlasted the Lady Mustangs in a seesaw battle 25-19, 20-25, 15-13. It is the first time the Lady Braves have won their own tournament since 2009.

"If it came down to one thing I think we controlled the net with our height," Lady Braves coach Peter Verret III said. "Our blocks were on point, and they all seem to come at the right time to win."

Shannon Jones led the Bourgeois effort with 16 kills. Raeven Scott had four kills and two blocks, and setter Rebekah Porche had 22 assists.

"I think their net play was the key throughout the match," Assumption coach Sandy Fussell said. "They put up such a tremendous block, at times it's hard to get the ball around them defensively."

Erineka Mollere and Kevreion Ward led Assumption with six kills each, followed by Bailey Daigle with 19 assists and Taylor Dupaty with five aces and five kills.

H.L. Bourgeois (10-1 overall) led 16-14 in Game 1 before scoring five consecutive points to pull away. The Lady Mustangs held off four straight set points, but a kill by Porche ended the game.

"In the first game, we were just slamming the ball at them," Verret said. "Our passing was perfect. All the things that you need to run offense fell in place for us."

Assumption (9-5 overall) responded emphatically in the second game. They jumped out to 14-5 advantage, using six service aces (three by Dupaty) to power their comeback. H.L. Bourgeois pulled to within four points before a hitting error on Scott ended the set, tying the match at 1-1.

"We're going to live and die by the serve," Fussell said "At times our service game lets us down, but at other times it is the big part of what we do. So you got to take the good with the bad and hope for the best."

In the final set H.L. Bourgeois galloped to a 7-3 lead behind consecutive kills by Jones. Assumption rallied with six straight points, capped by an ace from Bre Landry, to take control 10-8. The Lady Braves tied the set twice before Jones' final kill gave H.L. Bourgeois the lead for good. A hitting error by Ward ended the match and sent the Lady Braves team screaming in celebration.

"It was just who wanted it the most," Verret said. "It was two good teams battling it out. We were very fortunate to win, but I am proud of my team."

"I'm proud of the way our girls fought back," Fussell said. "On the last couple of possessions we had the rotation on their side that we wanted. It's just unfortunately we missed that last ball."

For a team that has yet to have a full practice this season, Fussell was happy to see Assumption get a little better with each match during the Lady Braves Classic.

"I can see the communication with the girls, the court coverage, everything is just headed in the right direction," she said

With Jones and Meghan Stevens (two blocks, two aces) the only returning starters for H.L. Bourgeois, Verret was most pleased to have a young team that is eager to learn and grow.

"They don't settle for where they're at now. They want to better themselves," he said. "They want to play better teams and they want to be able to compete for the big honors at the end of the season."