Ella Wilkie beamed moments after she and her Hahnville teammates gutted out a dramatic win in five games over defending District 8-I champion Terrebonne.
“This is a team we’ve been working so hard to beat … I’ve (never been on a team) that’s beat them since I’ve been here,” said Wilkie, a senior. ”We really needed this win.”
Wilkie was dominant late in the match, particularly in the pivotal 5th and final game as Hahnville earned a 25-15, 25-11, 14-25, 11-25, 15-11 at home on Tuesday night.
This was the third straight win for Hahnville (22-9, 2-0) and its fourth in the past five matches. But this was also the toppling of what’s been a major foe for the Tigers. Terrebonne had won six straight over Hahnville, which had last felled THS on Aug. 30 of 2018.
“It’s an enormous win for us,” said Hahnville head coach Mendi LeBoeuf. “They’re the defending district champions from last year, a very good program and a team that’s going to give people a lot of trouble in the playoffs.
Through four games, each team flashed dominant play over stretches. In sets one and two, Hahnville were in full control. Hahnville leapt out to a 7-1 lead in game one and answered a Terrebonne rally – with the score 17-15, Hahnville rattled off eight points in a row to win, several on the back of some stellar serving by Kourtney Irons, who made three aces in that stretch. Katelyn Dufrene tipped home the 25th and final point.
In game two, Hahnville controlled matters from the start again. An ace by Makynzi Williams and a kill by Mariah Mott landed home two of the final three points to clinch that set.
But in the third set, Terrebonne turned things around behind some strong play at the net. Tre’Nae Taylor and Isabell Bourgeois raised their game and banked home several kills, blocks and tips to cut Hahnville’s lead to two games to one.
Ditto in game four. Hahnville fell behind 13-5 before making a quick run spiked by two Wilkie kills. But Bourgeois and Taylor answered by generating two of Terrebonne’s next four points, and THS extended its lead to 17-9. Hahnville could not slow Terrebonne down and the game was headed to a fifth and deciding set.
“In the third and fourth game, they blocked the ball really well, and we had to kind of figure it out,” said LeBoeuf. “I think we got in our own heads about trying to defend the tip and then hit around the block, and I thought we started to play a little conservative. We needed to get back to being the aggressor and playing to win, and in the fifth, we did that.”
Wilkie and Mott set an early tone in the final set, earning back-to-back kills to make it 4-1. A Taylor kill sparked a quick 3-0 run by Terrebonne to pull within one, and THS took a 7-6 lead after a Layla Dominique kill and a HHS error.
With Terrebonne leading 11-10, however, the Tigers’ senior hitter took charge. HHS scored two straight to go ahead, and then Wilkie slammed home kills on each of the Tigers’ final three points to end the match and seal the win.
“We really picked up our energy,” Wilkie said. “We let ourselves get down before that last set … we’ve struggled with that throughout the season … whenever we’re connecting on the court, we just click. When our energy is up, we play so well together, and we knew we needed to pull through for this win. And we did. We’re going for that district championship.”
LeBoeuf said Wilkie’s leadership was vital throughout the match.
“She played really well in so many ways.” LeBoeuf said. “Her level of play offensively but also blocking late gave us a lot of confidence to be able to defend around there. I thought her demeanor was steady – she never looked doubtful. She led us very well tonight.”
Mott finished the match with 22 kills. Wilkie added 16. Irons and Williams combined for five aces.