But that rugged stretch to start the season, one that included losses to Divison I champs Fontainebleu and Division IV winner Country Day as well as state runnersup St. Thomas More (D-I) and ESA (D-V), paved the way for what was to become another championship run by the Lady Pios.
“We hit a rough patch in late September; we lost a bunch of games and we were just down,” recalled Young, whose Lady Pios claimed the Division IV state title with a straight-sets victory over De La Salle over the weekend.
That uncharacteristic start forced the Young and the Lady Pios to go back to the basics, which the 13-year coach attributes to turning the team’s season around.
“We went back to the fundamentals,’’ said Young. “We went back to where our practices were passing, passing and passing. I don’t think we did much team stuff the last half of the season. We knew that if we could pass the ball decent, everything else would take care of itself.”
That back-to-the-drawing board approach paid dividends almost immediately: The Lady Pios went on to win 20 of their last 22 regular-season games, including a streak of 19 straight wins.
Once in the playoffs, Notre Dame, which earned the No. 1 seed, was virtually unstoppable. The Lady Pios defeated Dunham and Northlake Christian in straight sets before losing their only set in postseason play in a 3-1 victory over Newman in the semifinals.
Saturday’s victory over De La Salle gave the Lady Pios their second straight title and third in the last five years.
Young’s teams have not only won the district title every year since she took over 13 years ago, but they have made it to the state tournament every year as well.
In 2007, the Lady Pios defeated E.D White for their first title. They were defeated by Sacred Heart of New Orleans in the semifinals the following year and then lost to Ursuline in the 2009 title game.
The Lady Pios avenged the loss to Ursuline the following year, defeating the Lady Lions for the title.
“I think we’ve started to get girls who buy into what we’re trying to do,” said Young. “You know, our football program at Notre Dame gets boys in there that know that they are going to be on a potential state championship team. I think, five or six years ago, we had been at the state tournament for quite a while and I just think it clicked and the girls finally said “we know we’re part of something big, we just have to do it”.
“That first group in 2007 that took us to the finals, that just set the bar for all the younger girls.”
The Lady Pios’ remarkable run after a sluggish start to begin the season is one that Young’s squad will not soon forget.
“This is just so exciting,” said senior Alaina Savoy , who was named the Most Valuable Player of the Division IV title game. “We never would have dreamed months back that we would be state champions. We were so down, but we just got up and we were ready to end it on a good note.”