St. Joseph volleyball team’s season-long journey has a final stop in Jonesboro today.
The Lady Bulldogs (23-0) will play Mansfield at 3 p.m. today at Arkansas State University’s Convocation Center for a Class 3A state championship.
"It’s big," St. Joseph coach Luke Davis said, referring to the school’s first finals appearance in volleyball. "It’s a lot of tradition in the school, but this is big for our volleyball program. Hopefully, other girls will come and try out after seeing the success that this program has been having. This can be the start of a great tradition in volleyball."
In their opening match of the state tournament, the Lady Bulldogs recorded a sweep against Alpena in Harrison. St. Joseph’s most recent victory came against defending champion Lavaca, 25-11, 25-19, 25-21 on Thursday.
"All of the aspects have been working for us," Davis said. "Our back row, Jordan Justice and Tori Carter, have been doing a nice job of getting the ball to our setter Jessica Justice. Jessica has been getting it to our hitters and she has spread the ball well."
The Lady Bulldogs have already posted their best record in school history in Davis’ third year as head coach. St. Joseph had a tough quarterfinal match with Harrisburg that went five games.
"We started out slow in the tournament," St. Joseph coach Luke Davis said. "We were down two games to none on Wednesday in the quarterfinals, and ever since the girls have just turned it on, and they’ve been playing well."
St. Joseph has been one of the most efficient teams in the tournament. The Lady Bulldogs were perfect on serving Thursday. Both Amy Schichtl and Courtney Briggler lead the team in kills, and Jordan Justice is atop the digs category. Jessica Justice continues to lead in assists and aces.
"Jordan and Tori have carried us," Davis said. "We’ve played some teams that hit the ball well, and they’ve been hanging in there and get it to our setter."
St. Joseph’s final opponent has been in the big match before. Mansfield finished as the runners-up last fall for the Class 3A title.
"They’re good," Davis said. "They have about six seniors that are big and hit well. We know that it’s going to be a big chore for us on Saturday. Those girls have been there before. It’s been a great year for us and hopefully we can finish it up on Saturday."