Ladies Volleyball Set to Open Season at SLU Tourney
Thursday, August 25, 2005

SHREVEPORT—The Centenary volleyball team will open its 2005 season on Friday when the Ladies take on the University of New Orleans in the opening match of the Southeastern Louisiana Tournament. Centenary will battle the Privateers at 10 a.m. before playing their final match of the day against Alcorn State at 4 p.m. The tournament will conclude on Saturday with the Ladies facing the host Southeastern Louisiana Lions at 12 p.m. and Alabama State at 4 p.m.


Fourth-year head coach Jenny Hazelwood is excited about her young team, which features five freshman and four sophomores. The Ladies have performed well in their pre-season practices and several of the newcomers have stepped into their roles nicely.  


“We are really looking forward to the tournament this weekend,” said Hazelwood. “Our returners have come into camp playing as well as we expected and the newcomers have worked hard to learn our system. I believe they are in a position to contribute when needed.”


The Ladies roster carries only two seniors and one junior, but senior Kelley Heckman will redshirt after being lost for the season after having surgery to correct an injury from the 2004 campaign. Heckman, a team co-captain, ranks first all-time on the Centenary career digs list with 1,156, places second and third in kill attempts (2,811) and kills (767) respectively, and is also third with 120 career service aces.


Hazelwood and her team received another bad break when it was learned that sophomore outside hitter Emily Longerot could possibly be out for the duration of the 2005 season after having surgery to correct an injury. Longerot finished second on the team as a freshman with 320 digs to go with 287 kills, good enough for third on the squad.


“Losing our two starting outside hitters was a big disappointment coming into the 2005 season. They were both heavily depended on last year and we will have to work hard as a team to fill the void left by Kelley and Emily,” said Hazelwood.


Despite the setbacks, Hazelwood is optimistic about the new season thanks to one of the best recruiting classes Centenary has ever recorded.


“We have high expectations for our freshman class,” said Hazelwood. “While continuing to adjust to the college level, I believe we will see a lot of good things from these Ladies in the near future.”


Freshmen Danielle Bochat and Ashlee Freeman will be asked to largely contribute on the offensive side, as will be the same for Rebecca Lunceford. Chevy White and Liliana Williams will also play large roles for the Ladies immediately, White as an all-around player and Williams as the libero.  


Two players that are returning include senior co-captain Tracee Byrd and sophomore setter Lindsay Bekelja. Byrd, who ranks in the top ten of five different Centenary career lists (kill attempts, kills, service aces, total blocks, and block assists), led the Ladies with 379 kills from her middle blocker position in 2004. Bekelja is back to run the Centenary offense after earning All-Freshman All-Mid-Con and All-Louisiana accolades after compiling a school-record 1,150 assists in her debut season. She also set a new mark for most assists in a single match when she tallied 58 against Grambling State last September.


Other veterans that will see increased playing time rather quickly are middle blocker Shayla Andreas (96 kills in ‘04) and defensive specialist Deborah Badie. Stephanie Scanlan (74 kills and 110 digs in ’04) will again play right side as well as handle all of the back-up setting duties.


The Ladies will look to better their 2004 record of 6-30 by getting off to a good start this weekend in Hammond. Centenary fell to UNO in four games last season and lost to SLU 3-0 as well. All-time, the Ladies are 0-7 against UNO, 1-20 versus SLU, and 3-0 when facing Alabama State. Centenary has also compiled a 13-5 record against Alcorn State in 18 meetings.