EA expecting to live up to potential

Peter Silas Pasqua
East Ascension’s Jade St. Pierre drops a dink over White Castle’s Bronshell Gibson in the Lady Spartans’ match at the Louisiana School for the Deaf Jamboree Tuesday night. Staff

BATON ROUGE - There were usual early season communication errors and mistakes for East Ascension at the Louisiana School for the Deaf Jamboree Tuesday night, but first-year head coach Lacey Barbera liked the potential the team showed.

“They did do well,” Barbera said. “They have alot of potential. I wish they would see that. We have been working on making things more serious. I haven’t seen consistency in our scrimmages yet but when they have to do well, they do well.”

Barbera takes over a program from John Levesque that went 13-18 overall last season with a 2-8 record in District 4-I. The Lady Spartans also lose Ayanna Cushenberry, a second-team all-district selection that led the team with 108 kills, 96 digs and 32 aces.

“They needed a coach and they knew I had experience,” Barbera said.  “I played for Assumption when I was in high school and I love the game of volleyball.”

Barbera coached at East St. John previously but has been a teacher at East Ascension for the past eight years. 

“We are trying to find some strong leaders,” Barbera said. “We have leaders but none that I think stand out.”

Junior Jyra Churchill will play setter and the front row for the Lady Spartans.

“She is one that has alot of potential and I just hope she sees it,” Barbera said. “She can do some great things.”

Also on the front row will be seniors Whitney Delmore and Tanisha Thomas.

Freshmen Chelsi Letulle is listed as libero but Barbera said last year’s libero Kristen Watts may return to the position after moving to the back row.

Senior Olivia Maher also returns at setter.

“She has great leadership and pretty much takes control of the game,” Barbera said.

Also returning all around are junior Caitlin Roddy and sophomore Jade St. Pierre. Barbera also expects freshmen Kandis Carter and Sarah Venable to contribute.

“Out of all 24 of us, 12 are freshmen,” Barbera said. “We are a young team so our future looks very bright. Within the next couple of year, hopefully we will see some great things. Our strength is that our core group has  been playing together for two or three years. Weaknesses are communication and conditioning. I am the third coach in four years so they are trying to work out the kinks. That has been an obstacle for us but as you can see we are overcoming it.”

East Ascension hosts Parkview Baptist Sept. 2 to open the season and will participate in tournaments at Denham Springs, Dutchtown and East St. John, while facing St. Michael, Assumption, Istrouma, Tara, Bethany, Riverside, Thibodaux, De La Salle and Lutcher outside district. St. Amant, Dutchtown, East St. John, Destrehan and Hahnville are district opponents.

“We need to build on strength. We need to build on agility. But none of that matters if you don’t have the skill of communication,” Barbera said.

“We have a very, very tough district. We are in a district where most of the other teams play club ball. Alot of our girls are involved with softball and track, so they don’t have that advantage. If we continue to improve, I think we will be fine. It is very possible to make the playoffs. We have alot of faith in our girls. We just need for them to have that faith in themselves. Then, I think we can go very far.”


East Ascension bounced back from an 18-13 loss to Christian Life in the opener to defeat White Castle 18-11 before slipping to University 18-17 at the Louisiana School for the Deaf Jamboree Tuesday night.

Christian Life went ahead 3-1 on a service error before four staight aces by Jyra Churchill and Tanisha Thomas’ dink gave East Ascension an 8-4 lead. Caitlin Roddy’s kill put the Lady Spartans ahead 13-12 but Brooke Winner’s consecutive aces put the Lady Crusaders on top for good. Brena Beauregard’s ace set up game point on Churchill’s return error.

Jazmin Williams kill opened the contest for White Castle before Shelby Martin’s ace made it 5-2. East Ascension then used an 8-0 run sparked by Olivia Maher’s dink and featuring three aces from Kristen Watts. White Castle cut it 12-10 on Bronshell Gibson’s ace but the Lady Spartans used a 6-0 run courtesy of Thomas’ consecutive aces before winning on Meshon Governor’s return error.

University went ahead 1-0 on Katherine Cadigan’s dink before East Ascension took an 8-2 lead courtesy of Sarah Venable’s  aces, kills by Thomas and Churchill and a dink from Maher. The Lady Cubs knotted it up 10-10 on Kayla Harris ace before a return error put University ahead. Thomas’ ace tied it 14-14and Churchill’s kill made it 17-15 before a return error, Devin Bahnsen’s dink and Kris Karain’s ace gave the Lady Cubs the game.