Mount Carmel volleyball coach April Hagadone is just a little bit mystified.
She’s not quite sure how her team is projected as the No. 1 team in the New Orleans Metro area and the No. 46 team in the MaxPreps Top 50 national teams.
“It’s funny because we didn’t even win last year,” Hagadone said of her team’s runner-up finish to St. Joseph’s Academy in the Division I final of last year’s state tournament. “I don’t know how it’s possible.”
But, truth be told, she has a pretty good idea.
“It’s probably because of Katie Kampen,” Hagadone said.
Kampen is the 5-foot-11 senior outside hitter for the Cubs, a two-time Division I Player of the Year and last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year in Louisiana.
Kampen, who finished last season with 598 kills, 478 digs, 85 blocks and 76 aces, is expected to do big things in 2014.
“She’s very athletic, but she’s also big with her leadership,” Hagadone said. “I think she’s getting a lot of respect around the country because of the type of player she is. She’s been playing since she was a freshman. I think she’s only going to get better in her senior season.”
But Hagadone said her team is poised to do big things in 2014 for another reason — that loss to St. Joseph’s. The No. 2 seeded Cubs fought hard against the No. 1 seed, but fell 23-25, 25-23, 25-17, 17-25, 15-11 in an epic battle for the state championship.
“We’re on a mission,” she said. “The way it ended last season, we were really disappointed. They’re determined this year.”
Besides Kampen, the Cubs have a solid roster to do it. Also returning is junior Kristen Nuss, senior Killian Clark and senior Megan Davenport. Somewhat new to the lineup is junior Marissa Lagasse, a 6-1 left-handed hitter, who missed most of last year after suffering a concussion. Te’la Sorrel, a 6-0 junior, is another big addition, Hagadone said.
Across town on the campus of Newman, Colleen Loerzel is not surprised at all that her team is the No. 1 small schools team heading into the season. Not only are the Greenies the defending champs, they also return a lot of talent and experience.
The Greenies also get an edge because Division V state champion Country Day, also a strong contender for the No. 1 spot, took a big loss when junior Tai Bierria moved to Atlanta.
Loerzel said she lost only five seniors to graduation last year, but has 11 experienced players returning to the court this season.
“We’re returning a solid group, Loerzel said. “We’ve got a lot of kids who have worked hard and who have seen it in action.”
“Our division has one of the strongest fields going in, I think,” she said. “There are any number of teams — Sacred Heart, McGehee, Notre Dame, University High, Pope John Paul II, Curtis — there are so many teams who could win it and no one would be surprised.”