East finds value in Villarreal's consistency
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Stress is a relative thing for Destani Villarreal. Victoria East's setter relishes those situations on the volleyball court because of the ensuring adrenaline rush.
The pressure-packed moments are indicators the first-year starter needs to pick up her game.
Thus far, she's been able to rise to the challenge, all the while riding a wave of on-court adrenaline.
Villarreal is one of two new setters for the Titans this fall, along with sophomore Madison Hawkins.
Hannah Jaschke graduated and senior Morgan Lienemann was switched to an outside hitter this year.
"I love it. I love pressure," Villarreal said. "Madison (Hawkins) is so small and fast. She just get's it done."
Hawkins may lead the Titans with 497 assists, but Villarreal is among the team leaders in assists, blocks, kills and aces. Villarreal leads the Titans with 42 aces. Her 413 assists are second on the team. She is third on the team in kills and blocks with 116 and 26 respectively.
"She's a very hard worker," said Victoria East coach Jamye Pauley. "She wants to be successful. She wants to be one of the best. She wants her team to look to her in those situations. She always wants to make sure she is doing everything she possibly can for her team."
Not bad for a first-year starter who laughingly described herself as "short and chubby" growing up.
Villarreal, 16, started playing volleyball when she was in fifth grade - after trying gymnastics, dancing and softball. She was a setter, because, at the time, she was one of the shortest girls on the court.
"It's easier to set the ball when you're shorter because there are some low balls and low passes you can't get to when you're taller," Villarreal said about her volleyball beginnings.
Moving from an occasional contributor in 2011, to the Titans' starting setter has been a stressful transition, but one Villarreal enjoys. She said she's improved her defense and setting since the end of the 2011 season. Her coach echoed Destani's sentiments about her passing, while also praising her consistency.
Pauley added Villarreal is someone the Titans know they can rely on when the stressful situations arise.
"I've been talking to her since last season and all summer about being consistent and knowing where to set," Pauley said. "She's made that transition very well."
Those attributes will be put to the test Friday evening when the Titans (19-12, 5-4) host their rivals from Victoria West. East seeks to break a two-game losing streak in District 30-4A play, while West (30-5, 9-0) looks to win a sixth straight in the series.
"It's extremely competitive," Villarreal said. "It's not a hateful competitive, but you'll do anything to win because it means a lot to both sides."