CCHS looking to youth to replace experience
The 2014 Central Catholic volleyball team includes, seated from left, Katie Hoffpauir, Madelyn Gros, Elise Hidalgo, Alyssa Landry, Bailey Scully, Macy Johnson and Sarah Thomas. Kneeling, from left, are Brooke Lipari, Hallie Autin, Kathryn Craddock, Samantha Willoughby, Kaitlyn Gros, Kaleigh Navarro, Taylor Picou, Emma Aucoin, Bailee Lipari and Wrenn Patterson. Standing, from left, are head coach Latashia Wise, Quincee Wiggins, Brittany Longman, Sydney Williams, Caroline Green, Rebecca David, Sara Price, Lindsee Case, Ava Nicar, Hanna McCue, Tyrus Anderson and assistant coach Mary Thomas.
The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute
Someone asked Central Catholic coach Latashia Wise last week about the holes she has to fill on her squad.
Wise, who lost five starters from a year ago, prefers to refer to it as “big shoes to fill.”
Gone from a year ago are seniors Meo Knight, Gee Garrett, Olivia Crawford and Elizabeth Garber. Megan Landry, a junior on last year’s team who started for the Lady Eagles, also was lost for the season due to an offseason softball injury, Wise said.
Knight, the District 6-V MVP and a Louisiana Volleyball Coaches Association All-State selection a year ago, and Garrett, a first-team all-district choice a season ago, provided a solid front court presence for the Lady Eagles.
Crawford was a first-team all-district selection a year ago as the Lady Eagles’ libero, while Landry was a second-team all-district selection.
With all that needs to be replaced, Wise is looking to both a mixture of experience and some newcomers to fill their spots.
“We have experience back,” Wise said. “Do we have the instant offense? The big boom to the floor? No, we got to take on a whole different game. We’re going to focus more on being consistent, more on getting our serve being strong — getting serves over — and passing the ball. That’s going to be our three strong points.”
The Lady Eagles do return first-team all-district setter, senior Kaitlyn Gros, and senior Brittany Longman, a second-team all-district selection a year ago.
Those two are the lone seniors on a squad, that in addition to juniors Lindsee Case and Samantha Willoughby, comprise the Lady Eagles’ upper classmen.
The remainder of the 27-member group is underclassmen and junior high players, including four sophomores, 11 freshmen, six eighth graders and two seventh graders.
“I have a lot of young, young talent that’s coming up. People might not see it now. They might not see it in the beginning of the season, but it’s a lot of young talent. I have a lot of seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders that’s going to compose the JV-Varsity team. I see it as a good thing because in the next couple years, (following) the team that left off the court at the Pontchartrain Center last year, you’ll see this team that’ll be there.”
The Pontchartrain Center is somewhere the Lady Eagles have made a second home in recent years with four consecutive trips to the Division V semifinals.
With such a vast amount of youth on this year’s squad, Wise said her goal for her team is to compete.
“I told them I’m not going to put pressure on them,” Wise said last week. “You can’t put pressure on them to get to a certain standard if you, at the present moment, don’t have all the tools in the toolbox. I told them don’t focus on what last year’s team did or previous (teams). You’re not that team. You have to reinvent yourself. If the Pontchartrain Center is your goal, fine. Let it be that. That can be your goal.
“Ultimately, we want to win district. … The problem is they don’t believe that without missing pieces that they had before that they can get to that, so what I’m telling them is you have to believe that you can be that team that wins district, you can make a run in the playoffs,” Wise said. “Will you get to the Pontchartrain Center? That’s long-term goals. All that is long-term goals. Right now what we want to do is we want to play hard, we want to serve the ball strong and we want to compete.”
In addition to the aforementioned returners, the Lady Eagles also return sophomore Hallie Autin, who has starting experience from a year ago.
Others who will be seeing playing time this season, Wise said, include Case, freshmen Quincee Wiggins and Taylor Picou, sophomore Emma Aucoin, eighth-grader Brooke Lipari and seventh-graders Katie Hoffpauir and Ava Nicar.
“What we have this year that we didn’t have last year, we have depth. … We have depth at every position,” Wise said.
Wise said that she hasn’t developed a starting lineup and won’t come up with one until probably right before district.
Schedule wise, the Lady Eagles’ slate may not be as tough as it was a year ago, but it certainly isn’t easy this year.
The Lady Eagles’ nondistrict schedule includes some of the better volleyball teams in various divisions from a year ago, such as John Curtis, a Division IV quarterfinalist; Lutcher, Division III semifinalist; Vandebilt Catholic, a Division II finalist; Cabrini, a Division II quarterfinalist; Assumption; H.L. Bourgeois, a Division I quarterfinalist; and St. John, a Division V quarterfinalist.
The Lady Eagles also will participate in tournaments at Assumption, H.L. Bourgeois, Archbishop Hannan and New Iberia.
Central Catholic will compete in District 6-V with Houma Christian, Covenant Christian and West St. John.
The Lady Eagles will participate in the Morgan City High School Jamboree Aug. 28 before opening their season Sept. 2 at Ascension Catholic.