Julie Ibieta, the volleyball coach at Metairie Park Country Day School, was selected as the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Greater New Orleans Girls’ Prep Coach of the Year for 2020-21. The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, selects annual award winners in a variety of categories; it also selects Amateur Athletes of the Month and each year’s Hall of Fame class.
Ibieta directed the Cajuns to their fifth straight state championship and their 11th in the last 12 years as they rolled to the LHSAA Division V title in November. Junior Kia Washington finished with a match-high 19 kills to lead the top seed to a straight-set win over No. 11 McGehee in the title match. Lauren Perlis added 35 assists and seven digs. Country Day finished the year with a 23-9 record.
“They peaked at the right time,” Ibieta said. “We started the season, and we really didn’t know what we had. We had a lot of people with no varsity level experience, and we tried a ton of different lineups. It was just hard. I’m so proud of them. They all played a part in getting here today. It was awesome.”
The Cajuns had won the 2019 state championship with seven seniors leading the way. It was considered one of the most dominant seasons by a dominant program. However, there were significant question marks with the heavy graduation losses.
“I think that of all of the teams that we have had that have been successful, the kids are really the driving force where they have been great leaders, they buy into the program and I think the most important thing that has let us have so much success is all of our teams are truly worried about winning instead of individual accolades,” Ibieta said prophetically prior to the season.
While the Cajuns dropped some early season matches, they found their footing and rolled through the postseason, dropping just one set in the five rounds of the state tournament. In the championship match against McGehee, Country Day cruised, 25-11, 25-21, 25-15.
The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee has recognized outstanding high school coaches for the New Orleans area since 1962. This is the first time that Ibieta has earned the honor – though the Country Day volleyball team was selected as the Greater New Orleans Girls’ Prep Team of the Year last year.
The other finalists for Greater New Orleans Girls’ Prep Coach of the Year were Jessica Chatellier (Dominican Volleyball), Temeka Johnson (John Curtis Basketball) and Becky Lambert (Archbishop Hannan Softball). In her 17th year at Dominican, Chatellier guided Dominican to the school’s first state title (Division I) with just two seniors on the roster. Johnson, the first-year head coach of the Patriots, kept the program at the elite level it enjoyed under former coach Barbara Farris as Curtis won its fifth straight state championship despite the graduation of its top player JerKaila Jordan. Lambert led Hannan to its second straight LHSAA Division II Softball Championship despite playing all 26 of its regular-season games on the road (due to weather and scheduling).