By Kyle Roberts
RUSTON, La. — If tonight is anything like this past weekend, expect a sea of Ruston Red at the Sports Complex for the first home match of the 2023 season as the Parkway Lady Panthers come eastward to take on the Lady Bearcats at 6 p.m.
“I think we’re just ready,” Ruston High interim head coach Mandy Caulie said of the season starting. “It’s been long because we’ve been practicing pretty much all summer. Now the wheels are turning, and I think everybody is ready to see what we’re capable of.
“I really think when it comes down to these games finally meaning something, then the girls will be able to find a different level of competitiveness.”
Last season’s Lady Bearcat volleyball squad finished 29-12 and earned multiple postseason district awards including Co-Coach of the Year in Lucie Hunt and Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year in now senior Jade Smith and 2022 graduate Lorelei Freling, respectively.
Ruston also won its first road playoff match in program history in a round one sweep of Terrebonne.
Cauley has the reins for this season in familiar territory; she actually served as Ruston’s head coach in the inaugural season for Lady Bearcat Volleyball. And from empty stands to packed gyms, Cauley is excited to see how the program has grown and that she can help this year.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Cauley said. “I love these kids and I would be at everything anyway. Lucie has still been very helpful serving in the capacities she can. And I’m just glad that I can help her out and hopefully bridge the gap for the girls so it’s not something completely new.
“The assistant coaches are fantastic, and they’ve been so helpful and supportive. And most of the girls are familiar with me; I’m excited about it.”
All Ruston High volleyball will be played at the Sports Complex this season. The freshmen will play at 4 p.m., followed by junior varsity at 5 p.m. Varsity will hold first serve at 6 p.m.