Lady Panthers feature depth, talented youth
The 2014 Berwick High School volleyball team includes, seated from left, Abigail Askew, Hannah Marcantel, Hannah Carpenter and Rennen Delatte. Kneeling, from left, are Brittany Roberie, Anna Armato, Morgan Romero, Jordan Lipari, Kylie Henson, Emma Hover, Leah Domangue, Hannah Henry and Rosalyn Gros. Standing, from left, are Makayla Melendez, Maci Wiggins, Mary Jordan Melancon, Madelyn Gros, Ashton Morales, manager Tyler Lambert, Sydney Aucoin, Jaci Arnold, Payton Suire, Cate Koen, Madelyn Hover and Mary Catherine Reggie. (The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)
Depth and talented youth are two things the Berwick Lady Panthers will have on their side entering the 2014 season.
Berwick coach Heather Blanchard said her team will be about 10 deep this year.
“This year, you’re going to see us rotate more people in and out,” she said.
Among those who will see time on the court include four starters from a year ago, front row players, senior Abigail Askew and junior Ashton Morales as well as seniors Hannah Carpenter and Rennen DeLatte in the back row.
All four return to the court as members of the Lady Panthers’ team that advanced to the second round of the postseason a year ago that advanced to the regional round of the Division 3 playoffs before falling to St. Louis Catholic.
The quartet, along with senior Hannah Marcantel and junior Madeline Hover, make up all of the upperclassmen for the Lady Panthers.
Berwick features a combined 18 sophomores and freshmen on its 25-player roster.
While she does have youth, Blanchard said she felt especially her sophomore class was ready to play.
“I have a really big sophomore class, and they’re all pretty much ready to play,” she said.
Berwick will have to replace University of Louisiana at Lafayette signee Brie Hill’s contributions from a year ago as she led the squad with 367 kills and also totaled 76 blocks en route to first-team all-district honors as well as Division 3 Louisiana Volleyball Coaches Association All-State accolades.
This year’s front row will include No. 1 middle hitter Askew, who has “really stepped up,” Blanchard said.
“She’s worked hard in the offseason,” Blanchard said.
Filling the Lady Panthers’ second middle position will be newcomer, sophomore Sydney Aucoin.
“She’s put a lot of work in. I like what I see from her,” Blanchard said.
Morales, who led the squad with 568 assists a year ago, will return as the squad’s setter.
However, she also will see time as a hitter as well.
“She’s going to be able to play a dual role for us this year whereas last year she just set, and with that happening, (sophomore) Mary Jordan Melancon is going to step in and be that second setter,” Blanchard said.
On the left side, sophomore Jordan Lipari will fill in for departed senior Diana Grace Guarisco.
On the back row, Carpenter, a second-team all-district selection a year ago, returns as the squad’s libero after leading the team with 55 aces and 585 digs.
“She really solidifies our defense right there,” Blanchard said.
Also in the back row, DeLatte will be moving from the right side in the back row to the left side to give the Lady Panthers another defensive presence, Blanchard said.
The Berwick coach said sophomore Rosalyn Gros also will fill another defensive spot.
As for their nondistrict schedule, the Lady Panthers will play in four tournaments — Assumption, Morgan City, Dunham and Terrebonne.
Other nondistrict contests highlighting the schedule include H.L. Bourgeois, Terrebonne, South Terrebonne, Assumption and Central Lafourche.
The Lady Panthers will compete in District 6 along with E.D. White, Lutcher, Morgan City, Patterson and Donaldsonville.
E.D. White and Lutcher both advanced to the Division 3 State Tournament a year ago, with E.D. White falling in the state finals to Teurlings Catholic. Teurlings Catholic defeated Lutcher in the semifinals.
Blanchard called the Lady Panthers’ league “one of the top districts in Division 3.”
She said both E.D. White and Lutcher return nearly half their teams from last year.
Blanchard also is interested in the Lady Panthers’ matchups with Morgan City.
“We were actually supposed to play this summer, and the tournament that we were at changed the schedule, so we haven’t got to play them,” Blanchard said. “We’ve seen them. I think we’re a lot alike, and it’s going to be very good matches between us.”
As for Patterson and Donaldsonville, Blanchard said, “They’re wildcards. You never know what to expect from them.”
Berwick will scrimmage Ellender Thursday and Terrebonne and South Terrebonne Aug. 26 before competing in the Morgan City Jamboree Aug. 28.
The Lady Panthers will open the season Sept. 2 at H.L. Bourgeois.