Lutcher volleyball has soared to new heights this season.
Led by 6-foot-1 senior Jariel Tureaud, the Bulldogs earned their highest seed ever Monday when the LHSAA playoff pairings were released. Lutcher (31-6) is the No. 2 seed in Division III and earned an opening-round bye.
Lutcher coach Ricky LeBlanc said Tureaud is the best player he has coached in his 15 years at the school. She committed to LSU as a sophomore and will sign with the Tigers next week. Tureaud will be the first Lutcher player to sign a volleyball scholarship.
A five-year starter, Tureaud said she has matured on the court the past two seasons. Missed shots or mistakes used to bother her so much that it hindered her play.
“My attitude has changed a lot for the better,” Tureaud said. “I’ve learned to handle adversity. This is the best Lutcher team I’ve ever played on. We’ve really bonded. We know we’ll have to communicate to succeed in the playoffs.”
Lutcher advanced to the Division III quarterfinals last season. The school has never made it to the semifinals, so that would be another first.
“We played a tough schedule to get ready for the playoffs,” said Tureaud, who helped her team finish 8-0 in district including two wins over St. Michael the Archangel. “We’re excited. I love everything about volleyball. It’s my passion.”
A two-time all-state player, Tureaud has 478 kills, 153 digs, 90 blocks and 44 aces as a middle blocker. She overcame an ankle injury and is healthy now.
Tureaud has the skill set to also play on the back row when needed.
Lutcher is not a one-player show. Janaya Taylor, a 5-8 junior, adds 263 kills, 43 blocks, 61 digs and eight aces. Avarie Louque, a 5-3 senior outside hitter, adds 144 kills, 287 digs, 52 aces and six blocks.
“Janaya Taylor is a physical player, and she’s aggressive,” LeBlanc said. “Avarie Louque does a really good job at the net and in the back row. We’re really a team.”
Senior setter Maci Schexnayder keeps the offense moving with 567 assists, 133 digs and 35 aces.
“Jariel is the focal point of our team,” LeBlanc said. “She excites the rest of the team. They feed off of Jariel’s enthusiasm. We run a fast-paced offense.”
“My favorite part of the game is hitting,” Tureaud said. “I’m looking at the defense before I get the ball to see what is open.”
Lutcher junior libero Maegan Michel is a defensive force with 362 digs and 27 aces.
Lutcher’s team slogan this season is “all in.”
“We know we’ll have to be ‘all in’ together to win,” Tureaud said. “We’ll stick together.”