Teams in this post:

Lady Cards reflect on playoff run

E.D. White Catholics' Gabrielle Dugas (11) and Emily Weimer (3) try to block a shot by Ursuline's Kristen Landry (21) during Saturday's Division III final in Kenner. (Photo by Abby Tabor/Staff)

KENNER — Madison Rodrigue's face was red and her eyes were filled with tears, but all she could do was smile with pride when talking about her E.D. White Catholic teammates.

The senior E.D. White volleyball player had just ended her high school career with a tough five-game loss 25-19, 20-25, 26-24, 16-25, 9-15 in the Division III state championship match to Ursuline Academy at the Pontchartrain Center on Saturday.

As she answered questions from news reporters in a press conference following Saturday's match, Rodrigue said she was proud of the Lady Cardinals' season long journey to the state finals.

"We were a young team and not many people were expecting us to get this far," Rodrigue said. "Every girl on this team really pushed each other. We really wanted this to happen. We fell short, but I think just to get to this point is just a blessing in itself."

E.D. White finished its season with a 31-14 overall record, and it was just one game away from winning its second school title in school history.

The Lady Cardinals, who were seeded second in the Division III state playoffs, had to face a tough perennial state power in Ursuline, who entered the match as the No. 1 seed and defending Division III state champ.

But E.D. White didn't back down from Ursuline, taking charge early by winning the first and third games of the match.

The Lady Cardinals needed just one win in either Game 4 or 5 to claim its first state championship since 2008.

However, Ursuline showed everyone in the Pontchartrain Center why it was the defending champion.

The Lady Lions used their serve game to roll to a win in Game 4, and despite falling into an early 5-0 hole in Game 5 to E.D. White, they kept their composure to rally back and squeak out the win. It was the second-straight state title and third in the last four seasons for Ursuline (35-9 overall).

E.D. White coach Mary Cavell, who has led the Lady Cardinals to one state title and seven state runner-up trophies, said every match at the state tournament is a difficult task.

Despite falling short of another state title, she complemented her team on a successful season, which included an outright District 5-III championship and playoff wins over DeQuincy (regionals), Brusly (quarterfinals) and Vandebilt Catholic (semifinals).

"It's always a battle," Cavell said. "But when you look back at it, it's about the bonds and the relationships that you develop. Our team bonded well throughout the year. They did a wonderful job. Our program over the years has grown. The girls now know what to expect. It's been a pleasure. It's where we like it to be, and we're just trying to keep it going."

Cavell said the Lady Cardinals worked hard throughout the year, taking part in tough tournaments such as the Episcopal of Acadiana tournament, where they defeated Ursuline in two games during the regular season on Oct 27. They entered the state tournament peaking at the right time, and Cavell said she was proud to "be back in" the state title game for the first time since winning it all in 2008.

E.D. White, which got 20 kills and 24 blocks from Emily Weimer, 10 kills and nine blocks from Michelle Riviere, six aces and 26 assists from Claire Chiasson, two aces from Rodrigue, 13 assists from Aimee' Brien and 23 digs from Sydney Bordis in Saturday's match, is a regular participant at the state tournament in Kenner, so it is already predicting another trip next season.

"I think since we know what the championship game is like, we're just going to push even harder to do it," Chaisson said. "We'll have the experience. We're going to try extra hard to get back right here and win it next time. We want to take it as far as we can."

Weimer, who received the game's most outstanding player award, said her honor was a tribute to the entire team's effort.

"I give credit to my team," said Weimer, a junior. "They were behind me 100 percent. I can't do it without their passes or their sets. It's all them. It's really not that much of me."

While she knows they have a solid nucleus coming back next season, Cavell said the toughest part of Saturday's match was saying goodbye to their five seniors (Rodrigue, Caroline Robichaux, Courtney Sanchez, Abby Richard and Gabrielle Dugas).

They fell short of their goal to win it all, but Cavell said their accomplishments will never be forgotten.

"This seniors are leaving a legacy of getting us back to the state finals. As role models, they've been outstanding," Cavell said. "All five of them have done a great job for us in the five years that they've played for our program. I'm very proud of what they've done and the legacy have built in our program."