Venessa Jacobs entered her sixth year as the head coach of the Southern University Volleyball team (0-7-0) without assistant coach, Kendra Broussard. “We really miss Kendra,” said Jacobs. “She was a big part of the program. Not having her was difficult for us, and we really had to make an adjustment to no longer having her.”
Along with the absence of Broussard, the Lady Jags also lost Libero and team captain, Mariah Clayton, who in her final season had 231 digs and 25 assists, and Ranaja Taylor, who was a key defensive player who contributed 178 kills and 149 digs.
To fill these positions, Coach Jacobs started by bolstering her coaching staff with two new assistant coaches, Coach Roneolyn Bryant and Coach Bridget Bowmen. Bryant is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is a graduate of McKinley High School. She then went on to play volleyball at the University of New Orleans and is now a graduate assistant coach for the Lady Jags. Bowmen is an alum of the Southern University Volleyball program. Jacobs and the team are very excited about the new coaching additions,
This season, Jacobs is also relying on the team’s three seniors, Outside Hitter Paige Hall, Setter Vaterra Calais, and Libero Troi Jefferson to help coach on the floor. “All three of these seniors are vocal and they all communicate differently. They are able to get in with the underclassmen and help them understand the pace of Southern University Volleyball,” said Jacobs.
The Lady Jags looked to rebound against the Lady Cajuns (6-2) of Louisiana-Lafayette (ULL) in Seymour Gym last week, after a tough start to the 2018 season.
Southern dropped the first set to the Lady Cajuns with a score of 16-25. While the Lady Jags managed to match ULL in the beginnings of the set, the Lady Cajuns pulled away towards the latter parts of the set.
Unlike the first, the second set was where the talent of ULL took over the show. With a score of 10-25 in favor of the Lady Cajuns, the Jaguars went into intermission trailing ULL going into the third set.
Led by Paige Hall and Shelby Jolly, the Lady Jags were able to rebound during the third set that featured a high-scoring performance from both squads, winning the third set 29-27 in a back-and-forth contest.
“Fight. You have to find it in yourself to have the drive to want to win,” said Jolly, a junior animal science major from Cypress, Texas after the game.
The Lady Jags went into the fourth set at a 2-1 match disadvantage. ULL was able to take advantage of this fact and played an attack-oriented style for the entirety of the fourth set.
Despite a late rally in the fourth, Southern never led during the set and ultimately fell to the Lady Cajuns in four sets. The Lady Jags went on to lose the fourth set by a score of 16-25.
When asked what could be done from a team perspective to win more games, Paige Hall, a senior civil engineering major from Dallas, Texas had this to say: “I think [that] we need to focus on activating each player individually.”
Coach Jacobs saw passing and communication as two areas of improvement for the team. “We did let the game get out of hand in the first two sets. We need to do a better job at protecting our house.” The Jags will be on the road Wednesday September 12th at McNeese State University before being back in action at home on September 18th to host Southeastern University.