Rebels,Comets get volleyball season going

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2011



RESERVE – District foes Riverside and St. Charles boast volleyball teams that will look very familiar in some ways, yet are very much in transition in others.

The Rebels bring back four regular starters from its district champion squad of a year ago, but will feature a different crew of offensive finishers after the departures of seniors Shea LaFountain – L’Observateur’s parish MVP of the last two seasons – and Kristy Milioto, the teams two leading hitters.

The team is also transitioning on the sideline, as Kristy Hebert (who will once again take over as Riverside’s girls basketball coach in addition to her duties as head softball coach) steps down, giving way to Briget Melancon.

Melancon assisted Hebert last season. She was an assistant coach at Episcopal of Acadiana prior to 2010 and has been coaching on the club level since 1998.

She said that the preseason has been very important for her players and herself as a coach in zeroing in on where exactly the team stands.

“It’s made us realize what we need to focus on,” said Melancon.

“We’ve tried out a lot of different options. But I think the girls are starting to gel. We’ve got a very good group in terms of not just athletic ability, but attitude and determination. I think they will play very well as a team.”

Melancon said that the team’s senior libero, Shelby Deslatte, has asserted herself as one of the team’s most indispensable players.

“She brings so much to our team. I can’t even begin to tell you how impressive she’s been … pretty much everything you can ask from a libero,” said Melancon.

Deslatte and Kelsi Roussel each enter their senior seasons as experienced starters. Returning with them are junior Taylor Terrio and eighth-grader Toni Hebert, each setters on the team. Jenna Roussel and Danielle Sharp round out the team’s starters.

Melancon said that replacing the hitting production of a year ago will be a collaborative effort.

“We’ll do it with a very balanced lineup. I think this team has more depth in terms of hitting, with multiple options to finish,” said Melancon. “We can attack in a lot of diverse ways.”

St. Charles, meanwhile, looks to bounce back from a down year. It will bring back a squad full of experienced starters, the rotation including five seniors who all played a year ago: Raven Becnel, Emily Picciola, Heather Orillion, Alex Hitt and Ashley Klibert. Juniors Nicole Doming, Cori Millet and Megan Ruiz round out that rotation for new head coach Kristen Sullivan, a St. Charles alum who takes over for Kelly Cupit, who stepped down after the school year.

Sullivan said that while faces will be familiar, you’ll likely see them playing in different positions than a year ago.

“I’m looking at it as something of a clean slate,” she said. “I’m going to put them where I think they can help us the most this season. That could change by next year, or even as we go on this season. But already I feel like we’ve come a long way.”

Sullivan said that the number one thing the Comets are stressing and have been throughout the summer is building a stout defensive team, a goal she feels like is on the right track.

“My main focus is defense,” said Sullivan. “We’ve struggled offensively a bit … defense and passing are something we’re working consistently on. The offense is coming along. We have to take advantage of the chances we get.”

The Comets and Rebels will be district foes once again this season: the district remains unchanged aside from one addition, as Donaldsonville joins St. James and John Curtis to create a five-team league.

“We’re looking to keep improving every day and hopefully begin peaking when we get into district,” said Sullivan. “Make the playoffs and take a step forward … I think we’ve come far since early summer. I’m looking forward to this season.”