Parish volleyball teams set for start of 2018 season
The 2017 volleyball season in Ascension Parish saw an amazingly even realm of success throughout the area.
Five parish schools reached the playoffs. Four of them made the second round. Also, Dutchtown, East Ascension and St. Amant all shared the Division I, District 4 championship.
With a healthy contingent of starters coming back, it looks to be another exciting season for Ascension volleyball.
The battle in District 4 should be tight once again in 2018.
The parish team that brings back the most firepower is Dutchtown.
The Lady Griffins went 23-15 last season and shared the district crown. One of their victories came against St. Amant. It was their first against the Lady Gators in more than a decade.
Dutchtown was the sixth seed in the playoffs and earned a first-round bye, but they were upset by Archbishop Chapelle in the regional.
The Lady Griffins lose an all-district player in Kathleen Vasterling, but they return three first-team all-league performers in senior Lauren Launey and juniors Jaela Drumgole and Zoe Wooten.
They also return senior starter Madison Lee.
"We should be strongest on offense this year. We have five hitters and setters returning from last season," Dutchtown head coach Patrick Ricks said. "This team seems to be developing really good chemistry. They legitimately support each other and want each other to be successful on and off the court."
East Ascension is hoping to take care of some unfinished business from last year.
The Lady Spartans went a superb 32-11 and beat St. Amant for the first time in over a decade. It helped them claim a share of the district championship.
However, East Ascension was upset by the Lady Gators in the second round of the playoffs.
They will lose some keys pieces from last year's team. Some of the players lost will be Meagan Ross and Brylee Brown.
Fortunately for the Lady Spartans, they return last year's district MVP Diamond Jones. Jones piled up 401 kills, 81 blocks and 80 aces last season.
She will be joined by first-team all-district junior Truli Joseph.
St. Amant was the only parish team to reach the state tournament last season. It was their eighth straight trip.
It looked unlikely for a while. Plagued by injuries and youth, the Lady Gators began the year at just 9-11.
However, they picked up steam at the end of the schedule and won their last five regular season games.
In the playoffs, they beat both Destrehan and East Ascension to reach the tournament. There, they made it to the semifinals, where they lost to St. Joseph's Academy.
From that team, St. Amant will lose Baylee Rambin, the district's Defensive MVP. They'll also lose seniors Megan Arceneaux and Taylor Baxter.
Although, they will bring back ultra-talented sophomore Gracie Duplechein. As a freshman, Duplechein was a first-team all-district standout as she collected 666 assists, 268 kills, 251 digs and 41 aces.
Another all-district performer will be back in Megan Benoit.
In Division V, Ascension Catholic will be playing for a new head coach in Janelle Leonard.
Last season, the Lady Bulldogs put together a successful campaign that landed them in the second round of the playoffs. It was there that they fell to St. Martin's Episcopal.
From that squad, Ascension Catholic loses all-district performers in Hannah Settoon and Bailey Acosta.
The Lady Bulldogs will return two all-league players in seniors Lauren Landry and Isabelle Abadie.
Also in Division V, Ascension Christian will have to find a way to reload after losing some key players from last year's team.
In 2017, the Lady Lions headed into the playoffs as the No. 15 seed, but their journey ended in the first round when they suffered an upset loss to Westminster Christian.
From that team, they lost key starters in Rhesa Jones, Jamilyn Robinson and Aliana Moreland.
One of the top players Ascension Christian will return in 2018 will be Kylie Jones.