After injuries, Lerille returns to lead Vandebilt
Tue. September 17, 2013 at 10:48 a.m. | By Chris Singleton/Staff Writer
Vandebilt Catholic senior Sydney Lerille warms up before last week's match at the H.L. Bourgeois volleyball tournament. (Photo by Benjamin Oliver Hicks/Staff)
Vandebilt Catholic senior volleyball player Sydney Lerille was hobbled by injuries in her junior year, but she refused to let it take her away from the game.
Lerille, a 6-foot middle blocker/outside hitter, missed the first few weeks of her junior season with a broken collarbone. She returned to competition near the start of the district play last season, but during her first match back, she suffered a second setback by tearing two ligaments in her ankle.
After heading back to the sidelines with the ankle injury, Lerille rejoined the Lady Terriers for the final portion of their district schedule and playoff run to the Division III semifinals, but she wasn't 100 percent healthy. She attempted to give it her all during matches, but the injury limited her speed and overall effectiveness on the court.
Lerille said dealing with the injuries was frustrating, but she didn't let it get the best of her. While sidelined, she found ways to fulfill her role as a team leader.
"Everyone has their role on the team, so since I was injured, my role was to cheer for people who were in the game," Lerille said. "I was in the crowd every night, and I just kept cheering for my team. I really pushed for them to do their best, even without me."
Now as a senior at Vandebilt, Lerille said she is healthy and ready to make up for lost time last season.
"It feels good to be back out there playing with my team," she said. "It's great to have everybody back out there. It is pretty special."
During her high school career, Lerille has played an important part in the Lady Terriers' success, which includes three straight trips to the state semifinals.
After making second-team all-district honors as a freshman, Lerille exploded on the scene during her sophomore year, where she earned district MVP honors and first-team recognition on The Courier/Daily Comet's All-Region volleyball team. She is also a track and field standout at Vandebilt, breaking the school record in the javelin with a toss of 134 feet, 10 inches during her junior year.
Lerille is receiving looks from several colleges for both volleyball and track and field, and has an offers from Belhaven University, but she hasn't made a final decision yet on her future.
"Hopefully I'll get a scholarship somewhere for one sport," Lerille said. "I'll just wait and see what offers I get as the year goes on. If I do go on to play college ball, I want to go where my teammates and family can come see me play."
First-year Vandebilt volleyball coach Samantha Schexnayder said it is great to have Lerille back healthy during her senior year with the Lady Terriers (7-6 overall this year). Schexnayder is a former Lady Terriers assistant coach.
"There is no doubt she means a tremendous amount to this team," Schexnayder said. "She's really strong. It's good to have her, especially a player of her height. She's always one of our top leaders in kills and being an overall team leader. She doesn't back off. She always plays 100 percent. She leads by example, and it's good for her teammates to have that."
Lerille displayed her talents during a volleyball match against Division V state power Central Catholic of Morgan City on Sept. 9. She recorded 17 kills in the Lady Terriers' thrilling 24-26, 25-21, 25-19, 19-25, 19-17 win.
Central Catholic coach Latashia Wise got a front-row view of Lerille's play during the match. Wise was Vandebilt's head coach for the last three seasons before leaving for Central Catholic earlier this year, and she said she was happy to see her former player back following an injury-plagued junior season.
"I think Sydney has bounced back from that, and that has made her a better athlete," Wise said. "She got mentally and physically better this summer. She worked on things that she needed to improve during her senior year. I'm very proud of Sydney. I coached against her (Sept. 9). I knew everything Sydney was capable of, and she did it. Sydney plays with this high level of intensity from within. She's going to have a great senior year."
Lerille said all of her teammates are vital components to the Lady Terriers success this year, and she acknowledged their support in helping her overcome a frustrating junior year. Lerille is one of four senior players at Vandebilt, joining Sarah LeBouef, Erin Crane and Peyton Liner as the team's leaders.
"We're like sisters," Lerille said. "We've always played together, and we're best friends off the court. We eat lunch together at school every day. We've been playing for the last five years together, and it has made us more of a family. We love helping each other out."
LeBouef said it has been a treat to play with Lerille over the years.
"It's amazing to watch her play," LeBouef said. "It's really special. We've been playing together since eighth grade. Knowing that this is our last year is bittersweet. She is my best friend. It's our last year, so we just want to give it everything we've got."
Lerille, the daughter of former Nicholls State University athletes Roddy Lerille (football) and Jackie Breaux (track and field), said the Lady Terriers are motivated to get past the semifinal round of the playoffs after unsuccessful attempts in the last three seasons and compete for the first state volleyball championship in school history.
"I'm hoping that we can go all the way," she said. "We have the talent. My goal is to get past the semifinals and hopefully win it all."