BRUSLY - St. John the Evangelist High School was the only team to go undefeated in the 16-team Brusly Westside Volleyball Jamboree on Tuesday.
The Lady Eagles defeated Donalsonville 23-2, Scotlandville 25-9 and host Brusly 25-20.
"We feel really good about this season after playing very well in our summer league, going undefeated for the second straight year and winning the league championship," St. John coach Chase Mancuso said. "We know this season will be a big test and have been working extremely hard to bring our program to the next level.
"Although we lost five seniors we still have a veteran team with lots of experience. The main things we have been working on since June is speeding up our offense, adding attack options and making it harder for blockers to defend our hitters. Our hitters are stronger and quicker this season, so we hope to utilize their strengths and be more dynamic at the net. Some people are at new positions and still trying to adjust."
Each team was in a four-team, roundrobin rotation, playing one set to 25 points with a 20-minute time limit.
"It was good to see how we match up with someone other than ourselves," Mancuso said. "We did some things very well and everyone was consistent on getting the ball over and making the defense move to make a pass. We put a big emphasis on making it hard for the defenders to get the ball to the setter.
"At the net, our timing is a little off and we need to improve on our attacks and put the ball away more effectively. We made good passes off free balls and were able to return the serve well. We have to get better blocking at the net. With our size we should be able to make it very difficult for teams to attack the ball."
The Lady Eagles set a school record in victories with a 38-6 overall record and were 10-0 in District 3-V. St. John also advanced to the state quarterfinals.
"We've increased the intensity and speed at practice and work every day to get better for the State Tournament," Mancuso said. "We are at a point where just getting there is no longer acceptable. It is a goal to make it, but we want to win in that building. We know it is tough, but that is what will make the work we put in pay off."
Key losses include Jessie Brown, Kamryn Theriot, Randi Seneca and Jayme Rivet. Top returnees include Victoria Weaver, Keri Yarbrough, Carlee Smith, Kaycee Keller, Emily Delahaye, Claire Pearce, Alana Blanchard and Payton Passantino.
White Castle was the hard-luck team of the first rotation with the three one-point losses. The Lady Bulldogs, under coach Tammy W. Pierce, fell to False River Academy 19-18 and Port Allen 15-14.
St. John opens the season Sept. 3 at Riverside Academy in Reserve.