Lady Lions sweep the competition in Battle of the Boot


Yumi Domangue

Sophomore outside hitter Cicily Hidalgo jumps up for a spike attempt vs. ULM on Friday, Sept. 16 at the University Center.

This weekend at the University Center, Southeastern’s Lady Lions Volleyball squad hosted the Battle of the Boot Tournament. The team came on top with two consecutive straight set wins against the University of Louisiana Monroe and Louisiana Tech.

On Friday, Sept. 16, the team started the tournament with an impressive 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-16) win against ULM. 

The Lady Lions kept the Warhawks on their toes all night as the players scored back and forth. With several close matches, head coach Jeremy White described his team’s performance and praised their defensive success.

“I thought we played great. I thought the defense was tremendous. The blocking was pretty good as well, even though we didn’t get as many as we have [before]. I just thought that they did a great job with covering the line with Monroe,” said White.

“We had some rough patches with our offense on the outside, but we figured out ways to pull it out in a tight situation and then got back into a rhythm on that third set. So [I’m]  feeling good about offense right now.”

White commended players who stood out during the game, saying, “Newson had a phenomenal game scoring and really helped us out with that, but I think the glue that was there was Gracie Duplechein really making some great plays.”

Duplechein and Peyton Stokely had 16 and 22 assists, respectively. Duplechain also recorded 12 digs, the second highest on the team for the night.

Saturday, Sept. 17, the Lady Lions faced off against the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters, finishing with a win 3-0. The Lady Lions’ first set was a close game; however, with Cicily Hildago and Karlee Wilkerson serving up kills left and right, the Green and Gold recorded their first win of the day (27-25).

The second set started with the Lady Lions and LA Tech battling for the winning score, but the Lions dominated on the court, leading to a 25-14 victory.

Everyone was on the edge of their seats in the deciding third set, as the Lions aimed to sweep the competition. Early on, LA Tech took the lead, but the Green and Gold soon responded, catching up quickly. Despite having an edge late in the game (20-16), the Lady Techsters lost the set when SLU went on a 13-7 final run. The Lions showed tremendous teamwork and fight during their last game, which led to them winning the match 29-27, going 3-0 in the tournament.

“Today was a really good team performance. I thought we did a great job all around and made some great key plays. I’m proud of our grit. [LATech] came out and played us really tough, but we came right back and made some adjustments. LATech did a great job with their blocking and put us in a bind, but we just grinded our way through it,” White said.

White wasn’t the only one thankful and impressed with the team’s performance and teamwork during the third set. Sophomore outside hitter Hildago attributed the team’s win to focus and good communication.

“Everyone focusing and working as a team really helped. It took everyone to get to 29,” said Hildago.

White added, “It is the culture and the attitude of our kids that has created our success because it fuels the team aspect – how hard we play in defense, how hard we take swings – nobody cares who’s doing the scoring. It’s just about the team winning.”

The Battle for the Boot Tournament marks the first time since Southeastern has hosted a volleyball event in over three years.

White shared his thoughts on the big accomplishment for the proud program, which now moves to 11-2 on the season. “…We hosted in 2019, and then between Covid shutting down the fall and Hurricane Ida shutting down our home tournament last year, it’s been a few years since we’ve gotten to. So, it’s nice to just be out here finally in front of our home crowd.”