Lady Griffins focused on return to playoffs

Peter Silas Pasqua

LUTCHER - Dutchtown experienced the usual early season jitters in its first game at Lutcher’s River Parishes Jamboree Wednesday evening before the Lady Griffins settled down.

Head coach Patrick Ricks, in his fifth year, is hoping Dutchtown will make a return trip to the Division I playoffs one year removed from the quarterfinals after the Lady Griffins finished with a 9-22  mark a year ago and were 3-7 in District 4-I play.

“We were in a rebuilding stage last year,” Ricks said. “We lost alot of seniors. The younger kids did pretty well but we just didn’t have the firepower to match up with the teams in our district. We are seasoned this year. We still don’t have firepower but we have experience.”

The Lady Griffins lose four seniors from a year ago including all-district selection Natalie Barbier who had 67 kills and 121 digs, but Ricks is expecting classes of five on both the senior and junior grades to step up.

“We got alot of girls comfortable in the system,” Ricks said. “We just have to put it all together this year. I think that the strenght with the team is that they communicate really well. They are a close-knit group. they never quit. Those are things that we can build on.”

Setter Caitlin O’Banion and outside hitter Chelsea Magee are returning along with middle blocker Racheal Pickens and liberoCaitlyn Jarreau, all seniors.

“They all got a lot of varisity playing time last year,” Ricks said.

Juniors, Danielle Lightfoot, a middle blocker, Shamarea Jones on the back row and Haley Burns, a middle blocker will fill in as well as setter Haley Bain.

“We have a really hard time controlling the ball,” Ricks said. “We are just now getting better with our hitting and running our offense. Those are our two weakest points right now.”

Ricks said the Lady Griffins particpated in a summer league and attended camps at Country Day and Louisiana-Lafayette.

Dutchtown opens the season at Lutcher Sept. 2 and will particpate in tournaments at Southeastern, Dutchtown, East Ascension, Lutcher and Country Day while facing Belaire, Scotlandville, Episcopal, Dunham, Denham Springs, West Feliciana, Ascension Catholic and Hannan in non-district play. St. Amant, East Ascension, Hahnville, East St. John and Destrehan are district opponets.

“It is pretty tough,” Ricks said. “We have alot of teams on the schedule that have gone to the playoffs consistently that hopefully will get us ready to make a run at district and get back in the playoffs.  I don’t know if we can compete for the  district title but I feel like we can be in the top three.

“We definitely want to stay healthy but we want to sure up our defense and ball control. If we can control the ball, make good passes and our setters can take care of the ball, we should be fine. I am hoping to get in the playoffs and scratch and claw when we get there. I don’t know where we will finish. Our goal is to finish above .500 in district.”

LADY GRIFFINS TAKE TWO OF THREE AT LSD JAMBOREE

Dutchtown bounced back from a 25-20 loss to St. Charles Catholic in the opener to defeat East St. John, 25-16, and Reserve Christian, 25-14, at Lutcher’s River Parishes Jamboree Wedesday evening.

Dutchtown took the early lead on Chelsea Magee’s kill. Meg Gustafson’s kill gave St. Charles Catholic a 6-4 lead before the Lady Griffins battled back to take the lead 9-8 on Magee’s kill and Caitlyn Jarreau’s ace. Courtney Western’s kill regained the lead for the Lady Comets before Dutchtown used a two kills and a dink from Danielle Lightfoot to go ahead 16-15. But return errors put St. Charles Catholic ahead for good and after three straight kills by Brooke Baker the Lady Comets took the match on Jarreau’s service error.

Magee’s kill gave the Lady Griffins a 2-0 lead against East St. John before Chantell Bush’s block put the Lady Wildcats ahead 5-4. Magee’s kill tied it 7-7but East St. John went on a 7-3 run before Magee consecutive kills and Lady Wildcat return error pushed Dutchtown over the hump on Caitlin O’Banion’s kill. Dutchtown’s 7-0 run concluded with Haley Bain’s ace and Rachael Pickens block. The Lady Griffins used another 7-0 run with Magee’s ace setting up game point on Brooke Bahlinger’s kill.

Reserve Christian took the lead four times in the early going before Dutchtown took control on Jarreau’s ace during a 5-0 run. The Lady Griffins used another 6-0 run to go ahead 23-13 before Justine Tureau’s ace gave the Lady Griffins the victory.