This was Hannan’s moment, and the Hawks weren’t about to let it slip away.
Playing in the state championship match for the third time in the past four seasons, top-seeded Hannan can finally call themselves state champions after a 25-10, 25-9, 25-13 win in the LHSAA/Allstate Sugar Bowl Division IV State Championship Match on Saturday at the Pontchartrain Center.
The previous two trips to the title match (2015, 2016), the Hawks ran up against District 4-IV rival and four-time defending champion Pope John Paul II only to be sent packing. In 2015 they were swept, and the following season they managed to get a game before falling.
This time, Hannan was the one imposing its will.
The Hawks swept third-seeded University with relative ease to exercise the ghosts of the past and send its six seniors out on a high note.
“This makes all of the heartbreaks of the past more than worth it,” Hannan’s Allee Morris said, who also earned MVP honors. “I can’t even begin to describe this. It’s the best feeling in the world. We brought a lot of intensity into this match, and we really felt prepared to win it.”
Morris’s statement rang true as she led Hannan (40-6) with 18 kills and seven blocks while Mikayla Boyer pounded out 14 kills. Mia Migliore and Casey Aucoin had nine digs each, and Grace Lagalante guided the offense with 35 assists.
The Hawks’ dominance reflected in the University Lab statistics as Maggie Segar was the only player in double figures in any category, registering 10 assists.
Just to make sure there was no drop off at any point in the match, Boyer knew exactly what to tell her teammates as it got closer to the end and the championship was within reach.
“I kept telling everyone to play every point like we were behind,” Boyer said. “We came into this match with a lot of fire and we never let up.”
Her point was echoed throughout the match and especially in the first set as Hannan dominated in such a way that University Lab seemed intimidated at times by the relative ease the Hawks used to put the ball away so quickly at the net.
“I’m so proud of the way we played in this match,” Hannan coach Rebekka Bonnaffee said. “These girls get along so well and play together as a family.”
Maybe it was that cohesiveness that made them aware just how much the past mattered in achieving their ultimate goal. There was a period of time where Hannan had lost a long string of consecutive matches to their arch rival, Pope John Paul, until last year when they finally broke that streak with a four-set win on the Jaguars’ home court. This year, the Hawks knocked off Pope John Paul twice including in the state semifinals.
Hannan coaches and players heard all of the talk before the season that this was supposed to be their year, and in district play, they served notice with a sweep of Pope John Paul that there really was something to the preseason chatter.
“We were just so focused on not only getting to the finals, but also winning it,” Lagalante said. “There’s no way to describe how good this feels right now. Maybe in a few days when we aren’t playing, it will all sink in.”
The only thoughts on the mind of the Hawks in the match was keeping the pressure on in the second set as the intensity rose and they won, 25-9 with the Division IV title one set away. The Cubs showed fight in the third set, but Hannan closed out a 25-13 win on a Morris block to end the season.
“Hannan was an outstanding team,” University Lab coach Bonita Johnson said. “They did a lot of things to keep the pressure on us.”
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