Woodlawn bounces at South Louisiana Volleyball Invitational, building momentum

Woodlawn bounces at South Louisiana Volleyball Invitational, building momentum

The Woodlawn High volleyball team has won four straight matches in five days to bounce back from a tough start to the season.

The host Lady Panthers claimed back-to-back victories Saturday in the South Louisiana Volleyball Invitational against St. Louis Catholic and Loyola Prep and added wins Tuesday against Springfield and Thursday against St. John to even their record at 4-4.

“The tournament, I put them in a good bracket against some good teams,” coach Maria Gonzalez said. “That’s the type of competition we need to see, then they had a good practice, and I’m proud of them. They’re playing really well right now. This is how they should be playing.”

Losses to Parkview Baptist on Monday and Madison Prep on Wednesday carried into a slow start to the weekend with straight-set losses Friday to Westminster and Academy of Our Lady.

But Woodlawn was able to rebound and build some positive momentum on the final day of the well-attended event, which brought 20 teams from across the state and strong fan numbers to campus.

“The turnout was good,” Gonzalez said. “Usually that first tournament of the season, Labor Day weekend, is a lot of out-of-parish schools. I think we had four local teams and the rest from all around the state. And it’s really good competition. That’s what I like. That’s how I know we can play. So that’s what I’m excited about.”

Senior Reagan McDowell earned one of the nine spots on the all-tournament team, which featured representation from nine different schools from across south Louisiana.

And the Lady Panthers kept rolling at home from there in four sets against Springfield and three against St. John.

“We’ve been very inconsistent,” Gonzalez said. “And what I told them was we make too many mistakes in a row. We’re going to make mistakes, but we can’t make 10 in a row. If we’e consistent, we’ll be good.

“Elysa (Pitts) stepped up with her setting, and she’s doing well. Karma (Kasubaski), a weapon on the outside, she’s doing well. And Reagan’s been playing like she usually plays. She’s been playing pretty well. Pitts is pretty consistent also. And then, of course, I have my little liberos, my firecracker (Krystel Amo) and my other freshman (Katelyn Reed). Everybody’s doing well. Lacie (Sierra) has been playing well in the back row, and her sister Marie is my other setter and is doing well.”

The Lady Panthers visit Capitol on Monday before returning home Wednesday against McKinley.

Woodlawn bounces at South Louisiana Volleyball Invitational, building momentum

WHS Volleyball opens season full of talent, inspiration

Maria Gonzalez is understandably excited to be back on the bench this season for a wide range of reasons.

The Woodlawn High volleyball coach missed — in both senses of the word — some time with her team last year as she underwent chemotherapy for her battle with ovarian cancer.

But she returned this fall enthusiastic not only for reunion and sense of normalcy with her players, but for the opportunity she and her staff see for a potentially special Lady Panthers group this season.

“I’m so happy to be back,” she said. “It keeps me distracted from thinking about feeling bad or thinking about going to chemo… And they have so much potential, man. They can be so good. And like I told them today, ‘I’m giving y’all everything I’ve got, so y’all better play hard for me.’ I want to be here for them this season. And some days I may be feeling bad, but I’m making it through the season.”

Gonzalez takes the reins of the program back from her father, Nelson Malpica, the Lady Panthers’ longtime head coach who worked with assistant Luis Mendoza to lead the squad through 2021.

And the roster returns a wealth of bodies, talent and experience, as well as some key new faces expected to make immediate impacts.

“We only had one senior last year, so these girls have played varsity and have experience from last year,” Malpica said. “And we have a lot of kids this season. We have a bench now. Before, we’ve had years where we started with only seven or eight girls, and this year we have 32 locked in. And this is basically the first time that we’ve had a lot of people that play club. In the past, we’ve had one or two people, but we’ve got a lot of the girls this year that play club. So that’ll help us.”

Seniors Marie Sierra, Elysa Pitts and Reagan McDowell headline the key group of returners.

McDowell earned District 4-II MVP honors as a junior, and the coaches expect big strides and potential breakout performances from Sierra and Pitts this fall after strong summer showings.

“Then we have our two juniors that have been playing since they were freshmen, Kelis (Conley) and Brander (Graham),” Gonzalez said, continuing to list players to watch. “And then we got a transfer in, senior Karma (Kasubaski) from South Carolina, that last week was her first time playing. And she’s going to help us tremendously once she gets the groove knowing our team. That’s someone we weren’t expecting that I think’s going to help us out a lot.”

The coaches listed a pair of liberos, sophomore Krystel Amo and freshman Katelyn Reed, among the additional leaders of a talented underclassman group.

“(Amo) played last year, played club and came back, and, boy, she is a ball of fire,” the coach said. “And then we’ve got Katelyn Reed, who was student of the year from Woodlawn Middle, and she’s come in, like wow, playing varsity and stepping in pretty well and smart of course.

“We had a very good group of freshmen last year, and we have a bench. We haven’t had a bench in a long time, so we’ve got a lot of options. So, for me, I think we’re gonna surprise a lot of people. We are in a new district this year, a tougher district than we were in the past. But I think we’re gonna surprise a lot of people.”

Woodlawn’s increased attendance in recent years has returned the volleyball program to Division I, the LHSAA’s highest classification level for the sport.

And the Lady Panthers now have a District 4-I slate that includes St. Joseph’s Academy, Zachary, Central, Scotlandville and Baton Rouge High.

Early-season challenges such as Monday’s season opener against Parkview Baptist will test — and hopefully prepare — the team for what lies ahead.

The coaches praised their girls’ performance this summer and overall chemistry, but now want to see those dynamics come together in action on the court with consistency and against top competition.

And their messages to that end are clear.

“Fulfill your potential,” Mendoza said. “They haven’t fulfilled that. They’re not even close. We told them to hustle and show desire.”

Added Gonzalez: “I think in the jamboree, we got out-hustled… And that’s when I was telling them don’t give up. We were winning and then got down, and they stayed down instead of fighting through it. So we talked a lot about that. Be consistent. If you’re consistent, we’ll be fine.”

2022-2023 Lady Panther Volleyball Team Announced

2022-2023 Lady Panther Volleyball Team Announced

After a week of try-outs held in the Woodlawn High School gym, the coaching staff of the Lady Panther Volleyball Team has released the names of the members of the 2022-2023 Volleyball Team.

Congratulations to the following student-athletes have made the team:

  • Krystel Amo, Sophomore
  • Bree Blankenship, Sophomore
  • Kelis Conley, Junior
  • Branderia Graham, Junior
  • Brianna Graham, Freshman
  • Janae Granville, Junior
  • Morgan Huey, Sophomore
  • Amy Kirk, Sophomore
  • Amelie LeMaire, Sophomore
  • Seraya LeMaire, Senior
  • Amari Lombard, Freshman
  • Reagan McDowell, Senior
  • Maya Montgomery, Sophomore
  • Amari Nevills, Sophomore
  • Elysa Pitts, Senior
  • Brooklyn Potter, Sophomore
  • Katelyn Reed, Freshman
  • Kate Russell, Freshman
  • Lacie Sierra, Sophomore
  • Marie Sierra, Senior
  • Kaylie Tate, Freshman

Incoming student-athletes who were not allowed to tryout should email Coach Gonzalez at [email protected]. Final tryouts will be held on Monday, May 23rd at 3 pm.

Lady Panthers Begin Fall Season

Lady Panthers Begin Fall Season

As the fall sports seasons at Woodlawn High begin, the Woodlawn Lady Panther Volleyball Team will be the first to take the courts. The Lady Panthers are looking to improve on last year’s 9-9 record in a season that was full of setbacks and delays.

Long-time Head Coach Nelson Malpica looks for leadership from six returning Lady Panthers. Leading the way is Junior Reagan McDowell, who was named to the 2020 All-District Team. Reagan will be joined by juniors Elyse Pitts and Marie Sierra, who look to add valuable experience to the Lady Panthers.

Senior Isabella Schamber and sophomores Branderia Graham and Kelis Conley are also expected to lead the Lady Panthers in the early parts of the season as other players gain experience.

“We need to work on improving early in the season, and hopefully peak in the playoffs,” said Malpica. “At the varsity level, we do not have a lot of depth aside from the six players we discussed. We will need others to step up on the varsity level.”

Coach Malpica looks to a talented freshman class, led by Lacie Sierra, to perhaps contribute early.

“Lacie played club and has experience from Woodlawn Middle. We think she can contribute very early in the season.”

The Lady Panthers are once again hosting two tournaments at Woodlawn. The Southland Invitational will be held September 3rd and 4th. The Rumble in the Jungle will be held September 24th and 25th. Outside of the tournaments, the Lady Panthers are looking forward to their District schedule as they look to improve from last year’s playoff experience.

The Lady Panthers will be on the court for the first action of the season in a scrimmage on Saturday, August 14th at 9 am. All tickets must be purchased online.

Season tickets can be purchased for the Lady Panthers by clicking here.

Fall Sports Begin

Fall Sports Begin

With the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year comes the beginning of 2018 Fall Sports. Cross Country, Football, Swimming and Volleyball seasons begin in August. Practices for all four sports are currently underway, with the first official contest for each of the sports taking place in the final week of August.

Students interested in participating in any of these fall sports are invited to contact the prospective head coaches. While some sports have limitations on students returning to Woodlawn High School, all freshmen and new students are invited to participate.

Students interested in running Cross Country should contact Coach Rogers ([email protected]). Coach Rogers can be found in the library throughout the school day.

Coach Luquet ([email protected]) is the Head Football Coach. Coach Luquet invites all new students and all freshmen who are interested in playing football to speak to him in the courtyard before school or during either lunch shift.

Ms. Heyer ([email protected]) invites all students, new or returning, who are interested in swimming to see her in room 1208 during their lunch shift.

All new students interested in playing volleyball should see either Coach Malpica ([email protected]) or Coach Gonzalez ([email protected]). Coach Malpica can be found in room 1211, while Coach Gonzalez can be found in the gym.

In addition to the four sports beginning now, several other sports will begin practice and contests during the fall semester. Wrestling, led by Coach Guidry ([email protected]) can begin practice on October 1st. The boys and girls basketball teams can begin practice on October 8th. Students interested in basketball should contact Coach Fernandez ([email protected]).

Boys and girls soccer will be the next sports to begin practicing, with the first official practice date set on October 22nd. Female students interested in playing soccer this year are asked to see Coach Hampton ([email protected]) in room 206 as soon as possible. Male students should listen for upcoming announcements from Coach Barnes ([email protected]).

Powerlifting will begin in November. Athletes interested in powerlifting should speak to Coach Baronich ([email protected]).

While bowling, golf, and tennis will not begin until the spring semester, interested students are invited to contact their coaches now. Prospective bowlers should contact Coach Gonzalez. Coach Malpica should be contacted by any interested golfers. Any students interested in joining the tennis team should contact Coach Broussard ([email protected]).

With the multitude of fall sports going on at Woodlawn, the hope is that every student is able to find something to interest them!