Madeline Blanchard-Gugich expects big things from her team this season.
Zachary’s third-year volleyball coach said this is the most talented team in her tenure. Led by 11 seniors, Zachary posted its fourth win Thursday night, a 3-0 victory at Broadmoor.
The Broncos (4-2) defeated the Bucs 25-17, 25-10 and 25-23 in a battle between Division I teams in different districts. Broadmoor dropped to 4-5.
“Volleyball is becoming a big hit in Zachary,” Blanchard-Gugich said. “These girls love the game. We have fun at practice. We work hard, and we want to win.”
Zachary has good size with five players standing at least 5-foot-10. Senior Nila Rice (four kills) and junior Keandra Williams (six) are middles. Outside hitters include senior Biannca Pierre (nine kills), senior Tia Coleman (12) and sophomore Lauren Kinchen (three). Senior Kaylan Hebert (24 digs, three aces) is the libero. Freshman Dreona Clayton (17 digs) is a back defender.
Senior setter Mariah Clayton makes the offense go. Clayton was a defensive specialist last season and was converted to setter. On Thursday, she had 11 assists, six digs and seven aces.
“Mariah Clayton is doing a great job at setter,” Blanchard-Gugich said. “She is really connecting with our hitters. Our team defense has made a huge difference in our success this season. We were strong at the net tonight. We have some quick jumpers.”
“Zachary is a very good team and would probably win our district,” Broadmoor coach Maria Gonzalez said. “They’ve got good hitters. They had a hitting practice against us. I’m encouraged by our effort in the third game. If we play like that in district, we’ll be OK. The main thing we need to work on is our passing. We’re young.”
With Essella Holland serving, Broadmoor went on a 7-0 run in the third game to take a 17-14 lead. Zachary tied things at 17 on a good shot by Clayton. Broadmoor pulled ahead 23-20 following two aces by Kallie Johnson. Zachary’s Williams had two kills as the Broncos went on a 5-0 run.
Johnson led Broadmoor with eight kills. Sophomore Summer Jefferson added six assists and nine digs for the Bucs. Senior Holland had three kills and six digs.
Zachary has finished second in district the past two seasons to St. Joseph’s Academy. SJA won a close contest between the squads in the jamboree.
“We know we can compete for the district title,” Blanchard-Gugich said, “especially if our defense is on.”