Destrehan volleyball heads to Acadiana with playoff success on its mind

Nijai Smith and her Destrehan teammates are looking to score a playoff win tonight at Acadiana.

Destrehan finished the regular season strong, with wins over H.L. Bourgeois and St. Charles Catholic highlighting four wins over their final six matches. They ride into tonight’s (Nov. 1) District I first round volleyball playoff matchup at Acadiana (6 p.m.) with some momentum at their back despite the loss of a pair of key starters.

The Wildcats (25-16) have had to shake off injuries to sophomore Addie Benefield and junior Gabrielle Gordon to earn the No. 20 seed in Division I, after finishing 7-3 in District 6-I play; Acadiana earned its district’s championship and enters the postseason as the No. 13 seed.

But though the loss of those starters have left Destrehan a bit thin on the front line, others have stepped up in their stead, and DHS coach Edward Borgstede believes his team has a very real chance to score a postseason victory on the road.

“It comes down to going out and being who we are,” Borgstede said. “We’re an aggressive, scrappy team, a team that likes to block. So if you’re in the game, play your guts out … and if they’re better tomorrow night, they’ll be the winner, and if we’re better tomorrow night, we’ll win it.”

A postseason win would be the first for the Wildcats under Borgstede, who has seen his team steadily improve in his three years with the program.

Part of what has allowed Destrehan to stay steady after the injuries has been the play — and endurance — of setter Allison Carmichael and outside hitter Gia Zeringue, both of whom are seniors who have taken on expanded court time.

”Those two never come out,” Borgstede said. “We know we can rely on them.”

Freshman Ryley Boyne has made a big difference as well. She’s shown versatility, playing three different positions in her first season with the varsity, and Borgstede said her future is even brighter than the present.

“It’s made us a lot stronger, having her able to step in as a freshman,” Borgstede said. “She does not get rattled, no matter who we play. She comes to play. I’m fortunate I’ve got her because she’s gonna be really good.”

Meanwhile, junior Danae Lathers has become the team’s most improved player, Borgstede said. She’s another player who has had to learn multiple positions due to injury.

“She really had to be taught everything as a freshman … this is really her first year with the varsity, after playing JV for two years. She’s by far our most improved player,” Borgstede said. “She brings a big block and that’s always been a big emphasis for me. That starts everything.”

Though his rotation is shorter — Borgstede usually likes to go 10 players deep, but he’s shortened the bench and features eight for the most part now — he still believes the longer the match goes, the more it should favor his bunch.

“Our conditioning’s still strong,” he said. “Our seniors don’t get rattled and I don’t see us getting tired.”


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