With five sophomores playing heavily in Destrehan’s rotation, one might expect the Wildcats to be struggling at this point in the season, when district rankings and playoff positioning is on the line.
Not so, however, as the young volleyball squad has improved its record to 19-13 after a slow start to the season, and has done so despite a few key injuries. DHS has wrapped up a playoff spot and is now attempting to close strong to raise its seeding, which stood unofficially at 21st in Division I entering the week.
“Our underclassmen have run with the opportunity. They’ve been real difference-makers,” said DHS coach Edward Borgstede. “Our seniors have been steady, and we’ve gotten a major lift from our freshmen and sophomores. They’ve really been carrying us of late, and the experience they’re getting is a very good thing for us.”
Sophomores Ryley Boyne, Addison Bennefield and senior Alyssa Vicknair have stepped forward as standouts. Boyne and Benefield give the Wildcats height and playmaking ability at the net, and lead the way for what’s the tallest of the rosters Borgstede has overseen during his time with the program.
Vicknair has asserted herself this season as well and may stand as the biggest surprise for the team. She took over as setter following an injury that forced the team to juggle its lineup, and has blossomed in the role both on and off the court.
“She’s setting like crazy,” Borgstede said. “She’s really taken on a leadership role. We’re dealing with injuries like everyone else is at this time of year, and we look at it as next woman up. She’s a great example of someone who needed to step up and was ready once she was called upon.”
Throughout the course of the season, youth has still had to be served at times, and the mistakes brought on by inexperience have been costly in a few matches.
“But I’ll take it because we’re staying aggressive,” he said. “These sophomore players, besides Ryley, they weren’t on the varsity roster a year ago. This has been their first major action, and I’m really pleased with what we’ve seen from them, in their play, their focus and their chemistry together.”
The positive record is a good milestone for a program taking on what Borgstede intended on being the program’s toughest schedule in years, and despite those teams living up to that, it’s seemingly just made the Wildcats better.
“We’ve faced Dutchtown, E.D. White, East Ascension, and two of those teams are in the top five,” Borgstede said. “Dominican, who we played, just beat Mount Carmel, which helps us in our strength of schedule and power points. We’ve got a tough tournament left next week, then it’s on to the playoffs.”