Parish volleyball once again strong in 2016

Kyle Riviere
Ascension Catholic will try to follow up a run to the state semifinals in 2015. Photo by Chuck Montero.

At this time of year, sports fans are usually chomping at the bit for the start of the football season, but late August and early September doesn’t just mark our return to the gridiron.

It’s also the beginning of another sport that parish athletes thrive in: volleyball. Once again, Ascension’s top teams will bring back many of their standouts and enter 2016 with high expectations.

Ascension Catholic was one of the most successful programs last season. The Lady Bulldogs won a district title and headed into the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the state.

Once in the postseason, Ascension Catholic made a run to the state semifinals for the first time in five years, before losing to eventual state champion McGehee.

The Lady Bulldogs have their eyes set on another deep playoff run, but it won’t be easy. They’re losing some of their biggest performers from last season.

Both Michayla Spano (927 assists, 236 digs) and Rae’Shaun Malancon were first-team all-district selections last season, but they won’t be there in 2016.

The Lady Bulldogs will also be without Kaylee Burns, Julia Beck and Claudia Rome. All were all-district selections last year.

Luckily for Ascension Catholic, they will return first-team all-district star Grace Villa. Villa will be joined by Carson Dunn, Bailey Acosta and Hannah Settoon.

St. Amant had another big year in 2015. They won yet another district championship and headed into the playoffs as the No. 5 seed.

The Lady Gators made a run to the state quarterfinals before losing to Barbe.

After the widespread flooding in the area, it is still uncertain when St. Amant will be able to begin the season, but when they are able to play, they’ll instantly become one of the Division-I favorites.

St. Amant will have to replace first-team all-district star Kourtney Gremillion—who finished the year with 565 assists, 312 kills and 277 digs.

They will also lose Megan Marchand, however, the Lady Gators will return most of their starters.

Brianne Babin will be back as the reigning district Defensive MVP. Maggie Duplechein will be ready for her senior season after missing significant action in 2015 with an injury. She still managed to pile up 240 kills, 167 digs and 226 assists.

Along with Duplechein and Babin, Madison Anderson and Taylor Tidwell will return.

Dutchtown will try to build on a season where they earned a No. 7 playoff seeding and reached the second round of the playoffs.

Senior Kristen Thompson returns as the district’s reigning MVP after finishing with 473 kills, 392 assists and 87 blocks.

First-team all-district player Caroline Beeman (227 kills) will join her, along with other all-district standouts in Whitney Jones and Katelyn Lund.

East Ascension had a big 2015. They earned the No. 8 seeding for the playoffs and reached the second round. Though, they’ve lost many of that team’s best players.

Emily Venable—a Nicholls State signee—is gone. She came through with 708 assists, 316 digs and 87 aces last season.

Also, both Jessie Watts and Claire Weinberger have graduated.

The Lady Spartans will have to look for younger players to step up in key roles. All-district performer Caitlin Henderson will return as one of their top leaders.