Young Riverside team moves to 5-2 mark
Published 11:45 pm Friday, September 12, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
RESERVE — Riverside outside hitter TyJah Greenup smiled after her team’s 25-11, 25-12 and 25-18 sweep over visiting Landry-Walker Tuesday. She knows the secret ingredient, she said, to her young team’s success.
“Intensity,” Greenup said. “That’s the key to everything for us. If we keep our intensity up, we’ll dominate every time.”
The Rebels are off to a quick 5-2 start this season despite much turnover to its starting lineup, including the loss of four All-Parish players from a season ago. That number includes current Tennessee Volunteer Kendra Turner, L’OBSERVATEUR’S St. John Parish MVP in each of the last two seasons.
But a number of new faces have stepped into prominent roles early on. Three players had eight kills or more Tuesday for Riverside, with Hailee Eldridge slamming home 10 and Briley Becker and Greenup each putting away eight. Greenup and Becker also each served seven aces, while new setter Abby Bourgeois had 29 assists.
Riverside coach Chelsey Lucas-Nicholas, who has led the Rebels to Division IV semifinal appearances in each of her two seasons as their coach, acknowledged expectations outside of her team’s locker room are down. She also minced no words about those of her and her players: the Rebels expect to win.
“A lot of people aren’t expecting us to battle this year,” Lucas-Nicholas said.
“We’re going to upset a lot of people. This group is young, but they’re very coachable.”
Greenup served an ace to jumpstart the Rebels Tuesday. Three consecutive Eldridge kills made it 4-1, then Becker made a kill and served two aces to push Riverside’s early lead to 11-3. Two late aces by Bourgeois helped set up a set-clinching kill by Greenup for a quick 25-11 win and 1-0 lead.
Riverside charged out in front in the second game as well, racking up eight of the first 11 points. A kill by Landry-Walker’s Anthanisha Dandridge and a Rebels return error pulled the Charging Buccaneers to 16-9, but five consecutive Rebel points capped by a Greenup ace pushed things out of reach. Becker clinched it with a kill and an ace for the final two points.
Landry-Walker wouldn’t go quietly in the third game, however. A back-and-forth early stage led to Dandridge getting hot, at one point capping a 4-0 Landry-Walker run with two straight kills to make it a 14-11 LWHS lead. Riverside reclaimed the lead with a 4-0 run of its own, including kills by Greenup and Becker, and a Sydney Joseph ace made it a 17-15 Riverside lead. Landry-Walker tied it at 17 but wouldn’t draw even again. Riverside led 20-18 after Landry-Walker scored on a Rebels’ violation, then RA scored five straight points to close things out, capped by a Greenup kill.
“We eased up too much in that third game,” Greenup said. “We got away from doing what we were doing early on.”
Lucas-Nicholas chalked up the final game to mental discipline.
“Sometimes, with this group, (discipline) is A-plus,” she said. “And sometimes, as you saw there, their youth shines through.”
Riverside plays just two seniors, with a number of very young underclassmen pressed into duty. Bourgeois and Becker, both freshmen, are adapting to new roles. Becker moved from defensive specialist to outside hitter this season, while Bourgeois is seeing her first extended varsity action at setter after the sudden departures of Toni and Dani Hebert, who transferred just before the season.
“(Bourgeois) was on the varsity team but not playing as big a role,” Lucas-Nicholas said. “She had a great desire to play last year and she’s very athletic. As a setter, she’s got to be the quarterback of our team.
“Becker has never been a hitter, but being the athlete she is, she’s going to compete and compete well. She’s putting in the extra time and making the quick adjustment. And the good thing is she’s just a ninth grader, so she has plenty of time to work and grow.”
RIVERSIDE DEF. THIBODAUX IN THREE — The Rebels bested Thibodaux in three games this week, 25-22, 25-18 and 25-12.
Eldridge had 15 kills, Greenup 11 and Becker nine. Maddie Duhon had 14 digs. Sydney Joseph served four aces.