Danielle DeGagne goes up for the stuff-block for the NDSU Bison in a game earlier this season. (DENNIS HUBBARD/NDSU ATHLETICS)
It has been a while since Brandonite Danielle DeGagne has played volleyball, but she has shown that she can still compete at an elite level.
After spending four years playing NCAA Division I basketball at North Dakota State University on a full scholarship, the 22-year-old has switched to volleyball for her final year of schooling. Had she not switched sports, DeGagne’s athletic career would have been over, which made her decision really easy when the Bison women’s volleyball head coach Kari Thompson came calling.
"The coach asked me in the spring and I would have just been going to school in the fall and I thought it was a great opportunity," DeGagne said. "It definitely has been so far. Just to meet new people and I love to play volleyball, so it’s an opportunity not many people get. So I just wanted to take advantage of that opportunity."
Adjusting to volleyball has been a little difficult for DeGagne. She had to get used to faster plays, needing faster reactions and different skills, but she adjusted well enough to become the Bison’s starting right side.
She’s having a solid season so far as she’s second on the team in attack percentage at .294 in Summit League play and fourth with 27 kills. She has also assisted on four blocks. The 5-foot-11 right side gives Thompson and her coaching staff a lot of credit for her success so far.
"Our coaches are really great and I’ve learned a lot in the past month or two just trying to get back into volleyball," DeGagne said. "The setters are doing great and our whole team is just connecting and that’s helped a lot. I just try to keep focusing on that."
While DeGagne is having a solid season individually, her team has struggled so far. The Bison, which have eight freshmen on the 15-player roster, were 1-4 in conference play heading into last night’s match against the Fort Wayne Mastodons and 1-17 overall.
DeGagne, who has become a de facto leader on the team based on her four years of playing basketball at NDSU, is trying everything she can to help build her teammates’ confidence so they can find their stride in the final five weeks of the regular season and be competitive in The conference finals.
"We are a very young team, but our pre-season we played some really good teams — almost all of them were in the top 25," she said. "As for (the) conference, we all think we’re right there. … We think we can continue to improve every day and that’s what we’re focusing on and playing our best volleyball by conference time."
Unlike her previous four years, DeGagne won’t have any sports to distract her from her studies after this semester is over. That may be a good thing as she’s set to graduate in the spring with degrees in human development and human science as well as sports management, but she admits it will be strange to finish her schooling while having a lot more free time.
"I don’t know what I’m going to do with my time," she said. "It will be weird and I know I’m going to miss it. I guess it will be pretty nice, too."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 19, 2013