The end to the 2019 volleyball season left a bitter taste for Destrehan.
The Ladycats finished 20-20 and were swept in their Division I first round state playoff game at East Ascension. Destrehan found its groove during a midseason stretch that saw the team win eight of 10 matches, but then came a decline that saw DHS fall in eight of its last nine contests.
An experienced roster led by junior Ryley Boyne and senior Addison Benefield returns for Destrehan as the volleyball season is set to begin next week, and from what DHS coach Edward Borgstede has seen during his team’s summer preparation, this group has internalized some hard lessons from a season ago.
“I think last year was a learning experience for these returning upperclassmen,” Borgstede said. “I thought we lost focus with about two weeks left and kind of wandered. This group is taking a completely new path and holding themselves accountable. They’re very self-disciplined.”
Borgstede said the Wildcats have adapted to the safety protocols in place for COVID. Utilizing its practice gym in conjunction with its home court to allow for maximum distancing between groups. Temperature checks along with regular check-ins to account for potential outside exposure to COVID are also part of the day-to-day. Currently, no groups of 50 or more can assemble, but the Wildcats program has split up its freshman, JV and varsity teams to keep those groups small – the largest among them is the varsity, with 17 combined players and coaches present for those sessions.
The team has lost just two seniors from a year ago. The lineup is seasoned – and tall. Benefield, a middle blocker, is 6’1 while Boyne, an outside hitter, is 5’11. Their height brings obvious defensive benefits at the net, but offensively, the team could see some growth through increased chemistry with setters Alyssa Vicknair, a senior, and Skylar Defrisco, a junior. Both are experienced in those roles.
Passing has been a focus this year, Borgstede said.
“This is one of our bigger teams, if not our biggest,” Borgstede said. “The setters are very experienced … team wide, we wanted to get our passing to the next level. We knew we had to work on that, particularly control off of that first touch. We’ve kept working at that since we’ve been back at work.”
The schedule is not finalized due to the fluidity of things in regards to COVID. But if nothing changes, the first parish rivalry contest of the new school year is slated for Sept. 15 as Hahnville is scheduled to visit Destrehan in a non-district contest.
The two teams will not be district foes for the second consecutive year, and Borgstede said he hopes that changes if and when the LHSAA meets to discuss potential re-districting this January.