Central volleyball coach Michele LeBouef came to a realization after an opening-day win over Parkview Baptist, a team she hadn’t beaten while with the Wildcats.
It was evident: her 2015 Wildcats are something special.
LeBouef, who won four titles at St. Joseph’s Academy (2001-04), is winning big and winning consistently in her fourth year at the reigns of Central’s volleyball team.
The Division II Wildcats, (26-6, 7-0) have the best record to date under her tenure and are poised to make a deep playoff run. LeBouef credits the combination of experience and familiarity to this team’s success.
“Since I’ve been with the program, we’ve never had more than one or two kids come back and start year after year,” LeBouef said. “This year, we have five people. It’s the same rotations we’ve used for the past two years. It’s just a little bit of maturity that has helped us for sure.”
LeBouef added this year’s team is well rounded and solid both offensively and defensively. That combination notched wins over Zachary, another team that has plagued Wildcats in the past.
But with highs come lows, and for the Wildcats, their low came Sept. 21 in the shape of a five-set loss.
“It was just a big-time battle, and we fell to Dutchtown in five,” LeBouef said. “Some things didn’t go our way, and I felt that it was a big knife to the heart for us. But we came out better because of it. The next game we played better than we had the whole season.”
Winning after a loss is one way to improve a team’s morale, and another is to develop a bond within the team. Central’s girls have done so in the form of dance.
“Our key to success is to just have fun,” said senior middle hitter Kelsey Cooke, who has 126 kills, 56 blocks, 49 digs and 29 aces. “We cannot play when we’re serious. Us doing the ‘Dolphin,’ you jump up and down. It’ sa little dance move, a way to let loose and have fun.”
“Right now we’re really close and play really well next to each other. We just know where to put the ball and how to play really smart.” Cooke said.
The trail now for these Cats is to the Pontchartrain Center, where the state tournament is held. LeBouef said she believes her team will get there simply because they “want it.” She said this team shares that “want” trait with the championship teams she played on at St. Joseph’s.
“I went to a St. Joseph’s-Mount Carmel match last week just to see my old team play, and I sat down with my high school coach (Brenda Leblanc) and I went ‘look, what can I do?’ ” LeBouef said. “And she said, ‘They’ve got to want it.’ Well the next thing I know, four of them are walking in the gym.”
The Wildcats’ “want” will be tested in a three-game stretch that includes Broadmoor, Tara and St. Amant.
The Gators who are undefeated in District 3, made it to the semifinals of the state tournament last season.