EA comes from behind to take down St. Amant

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
East Ascension celebrates handing St. Amant their first district loss in six years. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

East Ascension came into their district opener against archrival St. Amant having won four straight matches—one of those victories being a five-setter against Assumption the previous night.

The young and inexperienced St. Amant squad was reeling—having lost three of their last four, but as the case with any meeting between the two schools, the records are irrelevant.

On paper, it looked like the Lady Spartans’ match, but they had history against them. They hadn’t beaten St. Amant since Jamie Gilmore has been head coach. In fact, they hadn’t beaten the Lady Gators in at least a decade.

However, things changed on Thursday night.

It took a come-from-behind effort, but East Ascension fought through to topple St. Amant in five sets.

“I think this might be the first time in EA’s history that we beat them,” Gilmore said. “They’re a really good team, but I’m taking this one day at a time. They’re a good ball club. They’re very well coached. We can celebrate for right now, but we have to be able to move on to the next one.”

St. Amant head coach Allison Leake was impressed by the Lady Spartans.

“EA definitely brought it to us. I know they had a tough match last night, and kudos to them for coming out and really pushing us to the limit,” Leake said.

East Ascension began the match with a tough 25-20 win in the first set, but St. Amant responded by evening things up with a 25-23 victory in the second.

In the third set, the Lady Spartans found themselves down, 14-10, before going on an 11-5 run. This put them just four points away from victory at 21-19.

St. Amant made sure they didn’t score again.

Scoring the final point on a serve by senior Baylee Rambin, the Lady Gators closed out the set on a 6-0 spurt to go up 2-1.

East Ascension stormed back in the fourth.

They opened the set at 13-4 and never looked back. With a crushing 25-7 victory, they pushed the match to five sets.

In the fifth, they had things in hand at 13-9, but St. Amant fought back with four straight points to tie the set.

The Spartans were finally able to close out the match with a 19-17 victory.

“They’re learning how to fight and not give up,” Gilmore said. “We’ve probably been taking too many teams to five games, but at least we’re finishing, and we’re putting up a good fight.”

Leake said the difference was the Lady Gators’ shoddy fifth-set serving. They lost points on five serves in that set.

For St. Amant, freshman Gracie Duplechein led the way with 18 kills, 14 assists and eight digs. Aubrey Dwane chipped in with 10 kills, and Taylor Baxter had 15 digs.

“When you lose a set, 25-7, but still come back, that says something about their fight,” Leake said. “When you have young players on the court, you’re going to be up and down, but it’s a learning process. I know it’s a loss, and I know it’s disappointing for the girls, but for me, it’s about the process.”

Amazingly, this was St. Amant’s first district loss since Oct. 18, 2011.

East Ascension was led by Diamond Jones as she came through with 19 kills and five blocks. Truli Joseph and Brylee Brown each had seven kills. Meagan Ross and London Brown had 12 and 11 assists, respectively.

With the win, the Lady Spartans improved their overall record to 15-4. They have won 14 of their last 15 matches.

Coach Gilmore still thinks they can play better.

“We’re still a little off,” Gilmore said. “Hopefully, everything will peak at the right time around the playoffs, but we’re very young. There are a lot of sophomores on the court, so we’re still working on trying to find the open spots. A lot of times, they find them.”