Hahnville has plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about the upcoming volleyball season — eight of them, specifically.
That’s because the Tigers are bringing back eight senior regulars from a team that went 27-15 last season and captured a district championship. Many of those players are entering their third season as starter, after helping Hahnville earn its third straight season with a playoff victory last year.
“We’re very excited,” said Mendi LeBoeuf. “It’s a very large senior class, you don’t normally have that many making up the majority of your starting lineup. To see how they’ve grown to play at the level they are now, it’s really awesome to see.”
This team won’t lack for leadership, for sure.
“It’s interesting having so many seniors and kind of nice, because I see them all taking on those leadership roles at different times,” LeBoeuf said. “All of them stepping up during summer league and camp, maturing and interacting with one another … they’re also phenomenal with our younger players. We’re accomplishing so much, and I think that’s because of these seniors.”
Libero Kristen Crutti, middle blockers Raegan Young and Yelah Moses, outside hitters—and twin sisters—Brianna and Chelsea Plaisance, setter Bailey Roux, outside hitter Danae Lorio and defensive specialist Hayley Carmen comprise the team’s senior core.
Once Hahnville hits district play, it will attempt to vault a field that includes H.L. Bourgeois, Thibodaux, Central Lafourche and Terrebonne.
Conspicuously absent, of course, is archrival Destrehan, as well as fellow River Parishes rival East St. John—both were moved into a new district that includes Chapelle, Bonnabel and Grace King.
Hahnville and Destrehan will still face off on Sept. 23 at Hahnville in non-district action.
“I don’t know when the last time was where we weren’t in a district with Destrehan,” LeBoeuf said. “It’s such a fun matchup. Obviously, we wanted to play one another so we scheduled the game.”
The Tigers will play in five tournaments this September, so the team will get plenty of chances to sharpen their skills early.
Of course, the tournament the team is eying the most, ultimately, comes at season’s end. LeBoeuf said this group is committed to reaching the Pontchartrain Center for the State Volleyball Tournament.
“That’s our major goal, to take Hahnville volleyball back to the Pontchartrain Center. This group feels like that’s a realistic goal and they’re working so hard to make it happen,” LeBoeuf said.
Destrehan head coach Edward Borgstede likes where his team is headed into the season as well. Though four seniors have departed from last year’s roster, this team boasts more game experience than its youth would suggest—particularly because the fast-paced Wildcats rotated players liberally the past few seasons.
Borgstede said this season will see a bit of a tighter rotation of regulars, as the team isn’t as deep as it has been. But that’s also a function of versatility, as he noted senior outside hitter Nijai Smith and sophomore outside hitter Ryley Boyne have the rounded skillset to stay on the floor throughout rotations.
“We feel good about that because they never have to come off of the court,” Borgstede said. “They’re got such good serve, can pass and can also hit and block. When you have players who can play in both the front and back row and not lose anything, it helps with everything. And those two are really, really fast.”
Two other players to watch are senior Mallory Laumann and junior Addison Benefield, both of whom are primed for big years, the coach believes.
If everything comes together, it’ll give the Wildcats a chance to build upon last year’s playoff success, when Destrehan went on the road to pull off a first round victory over Acadiana before the No. 20 seeded Wildcats fell to No. 4 St. Joseph’s.
And it’ll have to come together quickly, as Borgstede noted he’s put together a tougher schedule than Destrehan faced last season, noting he felt it was necessary to accumulate power points and lift that playoff seeding. Contenders and traditionally tough programs like Dominican, Newman, Belle Chasse and South Lafourche are on the slate, and DHS will play in five tournaments that Borgstede said represent, as a whole, a step up from tourney fare last year.
He feels confident in this group, though. This senior class was his first group of freshmen after he began coaching at Destrehan. It’s a faster team in terms of footspeed, but it’s also among his tallest teams, with Benefield leading the way there at 6-foot-1.
“I’m as excited as I’ve been before a season,” he said.