Lady Gators to rely on passing, defense in ‘09

Peter Silas Pasqua
St. Amant’s Peyton Vincent and Kayla Young both return for their senior seasons after earning all-district and helping the Lady Gators to an 8-2 district record and 17-21 overall.

ST. AMANT - St. Amant has experienced a great deal of success in recent years advancing to the playoffs on a regular basis while also making appearances in the state tournament. However, the Lady Gators return just three players with varsity experience.

“Every year, it is a different team,” St. Amant head coach Allison Didier Leake said. “It depends on what kids that you get. The difference between this year and last year is we were more focused on our hitters a year ago and now we are more focused on our defense. Our passing is a lot better than it was last year so our hitters have to be smart and hit their spots. We want our defense to be able to win us games and matches.”

The Lady Gators placed second in District 4-I play with an 8-2 mark before being eliminated by New Iberia in the bi-district playoffs and finishing with an overall record of 17-21.

St. Amant does return the district’s top defender in senior libero Peyton Vincent who had a team-high 486 digs. Senior Kayla Young, a second-team performer also returns after providing 425 digs, 223 kills and a team-high 56 aces. But the Lady Gators lose three other all-district performers to graduation in Victoria Ojea, Laney Gautreau and Megan Poore.  

“Our seniors are experienced but the rest of them is pretty young so we are trying to be patient,” Leake said. “For us right now it is a game of patience and hopefully by the time we reach district they will be ready to go.”

Junior Elena Villar is the only other player with varsity experience. Those expected to fill in this year include senior Lauren Delaune, juniors Emma Key, Sami Marchard and Stevi Tate, sophomores Maddy Reardon and freshmen Brooke DeVeer and Brooke Trabeau.

“We have a lot of inexperience on the court,” Leake said. “It is just a learning game for us right now. Every game we are improving and getting better by learning from mistakes we are making.”

“Last year, we had hitters that could terminate points. This year we don’t have that. We have hitters that have to learn how to hit positions on the court.”

The Lady Gators’ non-district schedule includes Mount Carmel, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Michael’s, University, Redemptorist, Central, Terrebonne, Vandebilt Catholic and Assumption and tournaments at Assumption, St. Joseph’s Academy, Country Day and New Iberia.

“I never make our schedule easy by any means,” Leake said. “I want to play tough teams so that late in the season we will be prepared for anything. We will go into every game not knowing if we will win or lose.”

The district remains the same with Destrehan, Dutchtown, Hahnville, East Ascension and East St. John.

“I definitely think the number one team goal is we want to make the playoffs,” Leake said.  “Keys for us this year are becoming smarter volleyball players. Hustling more and working together as a team.  If we are not passing well, we struggle. Whether we play well or not really depends on how we pass.”

St. Amant was swept by Mount Carmel 25-11, 25-10, 25-13 Tuesday. Young had nine kills and 12 digs while Marchand had 15 assists.