Many first-year varsity coaches merely hope to get through the season with as few problems and growing pains as possible. Any success is generally a bonus.
Quadrupling the victory total from a previous year is a pretty lofty goal.
Yet it’s precisely what Del Sol’s boys volleyball team has done under coach Christy Duvauchelle.
A year removed from a 3-14 season and with a new lineup, the Dragons finished 12-6 during the regular season. They will face Rancho (14-4) in the first Sunrise Region playoff appearance in the school’s brief history 2 p.m. today at Las Vegas High.
Del Sol fields a lineup of mostly juniors, a class coached by Duvauchelle on the junior varsity level for two years.
“(Most of the players) never played volleyball until they started playing for me,” Duvauchelle said. “When I started coaching them, we just genuinely had a lot of fun. And that’s how we formed our bond and had our chemistry.”
Backed by that chemistry, the Dragons go out of their way to have fun during matches, rather than contend like merciless cutthroats.
“When other teams call a timeout to try and cut our spirits, we always dance and clap it up to keep it light,” said senior team captain Zack Deittrick, adding that junior libero Cameron Ely is “definitely” the team’s best dancer. “Whenever they call a timeout, it’s just what we do.”
For Deittrick, volleyball has become fun again. After leaving the team as a junior, he came back and joined junior hitter Eric Beil as the only Del Sol players with varsity experience. Duvauchelle played a role in his return.
“Duva is one of my favorite coaches I’ve had in any sport I’ve played,” Deittrick said. “I’ve known her for the past three years. I didn’t like the varsity coach last year; I quit halfway through the season because of her. If she would have coached this year, I wouldn’t have come back.
“I’m really glad Duva’s coaching.”
Duvauchelle uses that bond to speak candidly with her players.
“I tell them all the time individually they’re terrible volleyball players,” she said with a laugh. “(But) when they play together, they’re flawless.”
And as long as the Dragons keep playing as a team, their coach says she will stand by them.
“I promised all of these kids when I started coaching that I would move up with them (until) their senior years,” Duvauchelle said. “It’s working out that way; I didn’t expect it to work out that way … I made a promise and I’m going to keep it.”
Other Sunrise Region matches at Las Vegas High are: Silverado (15-3) vs. Valley (10-7) at 3:40 p.m.; Desert Pines (12-6) vs. Southeast champion Coronado (18-0) at 5:20; and the Northeast champion and host Wildcats (15-2) vs. Basic (10-8) at 7.
In the Sunset Region tournament at Palo Verde, the scheduled is: Spring Valley (13-5) vs. Centennial (15-3) at 2 p.m.; the host Panthers (12-5) vs. Bishop Gorman (10-4) at 3:40; Arbor View (11-7) vs. Southwest champ Bonanza (11-6) at 5:20; and Northwest champion Shadow Ridge (17-1) vs. Clark (12-5) at 7.