Lady Cardinals to Defend District Volleyball Title
Last updated 7/19/2022 at 9:27am
The dominate volleyball team the last two years in Orange County has been the Bridge City Lady Cardinals. During this upcoming volleyball season which starts in August the Lady Cardinals will look to continue their outstanding play.
Coach Savanah DeLuna is entering her second year as the head volleyball coach at Bridge City. DeLuna will be leading the Lady Cardinals in their efforts to win a third straight district title.
DeLuna inherited some very good volleyball athletes when she took the job at Bridge City last year. "A lot of these girls play club which contributes to our school season," DeLuna reminded.
Bridge City had a very good season last year. The Lady Cardinals went undefeated in district, they won the YMBL, they won the Lumberton tournament, they did well in the Dickinson tournament which has a lot of bigger schools from the Houston area, and they went three rounds deep in the playoffs before losing in four sets to Huffman.
The Lady Cardinals played fantastic last season in the coach's first season. DeLuna described, "The girls accomplished a lot, and we, everybody, accomplished a lot especially with new leadership coming in. It was a little nerve wracking for me, but it was a lot of fun."
Five true returners, three seniors and two juniors, are back on the varsity for Bridge City this season. Two other Lady Cardinals saw time on the varsity at various points of last season including the playoffs.
Senior setter Taryn Doiron played very well last season and was a six-rotation player for Bridge City. "She's going to be a big asset to us this year," DeLuna pointed out.
Taryn has played on the varsity the three previous seasons and in now her fourth year on the varsity will be a leader for the Lady Cardinals. Doiron expressed, "I am going to share leadership responsibility on and off the court while hopefully uplifting the team. I've worked with these younger freshmen the last three years."
Another senior is Morgan Louvier an outside hitter who changed positions and played in the middle for the Lady Cardinals last year when there was a need for a player in that position. DeLuna explained, "We had a little bit of an issue with our lineup so she changed roles to a middle hitter and did really very well last year, but she'll be an outside hitter this year."
Louvier was a move in last year to Bridge City, but already feels like part of the Lady Cardinal family. "I feel great coming on to this team. I knew a lot of them before I moved here, and that really helped me move in and feel comfortable with them. They've let me and allowed me to accept a certain role on this team to be a leader and to give them as much encouragement as I can," Morgan responded.
Strictly a defensive specialist and back row player is senior Makenna Carey. Coach DeLuna indicated Carey could join a couple of Lady Cardinals that are open for the libero position on the court.
Two juniors with varsity experience are Demi Carter and Ashley Hale. Carter stands 6 foot, one and will be a force on the front row for Bridge City. DeLuna praised, "She's done amazing things in the offseason and in club, and I'm really excited to see what she brings this year."
As a freshman and a sophomore Demi was quiet but is a lot more vocal now as a junior and is stepping into a leadership role. "That's really exciting to see," DeLuna commented.
Hale was a defensive specialist last season who is an all-around great kid according to the coach. "That's the kind of kid you want to represent your program," DeLuna added.
Though a junior, Ashley has already assumed a leadership role with the younger Lady Cardinals. Hale replied, "I'll show them that it's a safe space for everyone and we're very welcoming and show them that we really care about them and their feelings. I want to help them with everything they do whether it's on the court or off the court just to uplift them in any way we can and just show them this is a big sisterhood and we can all trust one another."
The coach evaluated the lineup with the five returning Lady Cardinals. "It's going to be fun. We have big things ahead for this season," DeLuna stated.
The two Lady Cardinals that were pulled up to the varsity late last season for the playoffs are two sophomores Nicole Sasser and Chloe Doyle. Both Sasser and Doyle are front row players, they have some height, and they can jump. DeLuna pointed out, "They need to grow into their bodies a little bit more and develop better as volleyball players, but they're just really true athletes and any coach can work with a true athlete."
The Lady Cardinals lost three seniors last year to graduation which actually totaled five positions on the court. Two of the graduating seniors were six-rotation players which means DeLuna will need to find two girls to replace each of the six-rotation players that left.
Official tryouts for the Bridge City volleyball team will be August 1. DeLuna is not sure who else will be on the varsity roster and which girls will be on the junior varsity and freshman teams. "I don't really know who's going to be on the team as of right now, but this incoming freshman class is a very strong group. We had a couple of them playing on the summer league with us and they really did very well. I'm really excited to see those girls and to see during tryouts who really performs and who wants that varsity position," Coach DeLuna announced.
Past history shows DeLuna normally likes to only keep ten to twelve girls on the varsity. "I don't like to do any more than that, but we have a lot of players, returners and new players, that are six-rotation players that never come off the court, they're good on the front row and they're good passing, and that's really an asset to have in your program. These juniors, sophomores, and freshmen that are coming up they all are hard-working kids that are willing to put in the work and we're going to see where it lands us," DeLuna analyzed.
Summer league allowed Coach DeLuna to see how this year's group of Lady Cardinals are going to roll out by competing against area schools. DeLuna said, "We had several younger volleyball players that were competing with the varsity at the varsity level which that alone is exciting. I love to see the potential in the young ones."
There are some areas that need work to keep Bridge City at the top of its game when the season starts. DeLuna explained, "We lost three really good passers to graduation and so that is where we may struggle a little bit. That is what I am looking to improve. We have good volleyball athletes in this program and that is not always the case at every school."
Looking to the future a little bit DeLuna is hoping to develop a setter and a six-rotation player to step in when Taryn Doiron graduates at the end of this school year. "There's a couple of girls in our program that really have the potential to grow into that position so I have to have someone to step into that role if Taryn gets injured or sick," DeLuna confessed.
The Lady Cardinals like to run a fast passed offense that the girls have picked up very well. DeLuna evaluated, "The fast paced offense I'm not worried about, it's the defense a little bit more, but that can be resolved with reps and these girls are coming throughout the summer so they're getting their reps in, their passes in, their touches in, and so we'll just see come August 1, I guess."
Coming off back-to-back district championships puts the pressure on Coach DeLuna and the Lady Cardinals to defend their title, but the coach and the team like that kind of pressure. "Good teams thrive off stuff like that, and our girls if they're anything they are competitors. They do what it takes to win. Coming into this season are we a lot younger than we were last year? One hundred percent, but are they still through and through competitors, for sure. These girls they want to win and they'll do whatever it takes to get there," DeLuna pronounced.
Bridge City is at the top of the hill with the other teams in the district looking to knock them off that perch this season. The Lady Cardinals cannot have any lax days or off days they have to be on their A-Game every day, every practice, every game, every tournament Coach DeLuna emphasizes to the girls.
The volleyball district lost one of its top teams with the Orangefield Lady Bobcats dropping in classification. The Little Cypress-Mauriceville Lady Bears are always a good competitive volleyball school as are the Lumberton Lady Raiders. The Jasper Lady Bulldogs have been added to the district joining the West Orange-Stark Lady Mustangs as quality opponents for Bridge City.
DeLuna sets her expectations high for the upcoming season. "It would be wrong of me to not set my expectations high, and my expectations to win district again are one hundred percent. I don't ever want to come down from that. We're going to ride that high until we can't anymore. District wise I feel good, I setup a pretty good preseason we're playing Nederland, we're playing Huffman, and we scheduled Orangefield still," DeLuna reported.
Scrimmages open the season for the Lady Cardinals at Nederland on August 5. Other scrimmages will follow with Hamshire-Fannett and West Brook on August 6 at Bridge City.
The Lady Cardinals will play in a tournament at Wimberley, Texas, on August 12 and August 13 which is a 42-team tournament. DeLuna observed, "It's going to be a really great team bonding and a really good experience to play those bigger teams up in that area."
District volleyball action begins on Friday, August 9, for the Lady Cardinals at home against the Silsbee Lady Tigers. The varsity game starts the action at 4:30 PM followed by the junior varsity and freshmen teams playing. District games will be played on Tuesdays and Fridays through Tuesday, October 25, which is Senior Night for the Lady Cardinals at Bridge City.