VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS’ DRIVE FOR SUCCESS
Although the path that led them to campus is different, the results since volleyball players Amy DeGroot and Ali Troost arrived prove they’ve got plenty in common.
The USD résumés for these senior student-athletes now include multiple West Coast Conference team championships and NCAA postseason appearances. They’ve also managed a WCC volleyball first: Teammates who are the last two recipients of the conference’s player of the year award.
DeGroot (pictured, at right), a 6-foot-2 outside hitter who won that accolade in 2008, was born in Hawaii, but associate head coach Brent Hilliard recruited her while she was a high school standout in the tiny Montana town of Frenchtown.
“I was fortunate to have someone recruiting me like Brent, who was looking for a diamond in the rough,” says DeGroot, a liberal studies major. She arrived in 2006, and was a freshman on the team that reached the NCAA tournament’s round of 16.
Troost, also 6-2 and a right-side player, is from Hemet, Calif., where she played in high school. She also played club volleyball throughout Southern California. Getting college recruiters to notice wasn’t difficult. “It’s a huge fish pool so everyone gets recruited.” Troost, an English major, was thrust into a bigger role when DeGroot sat out the 2009 season as a medical redshirt.
Troost responded with a standout year, but admits to being surprised by the player of the year award when USD finished second in the WCC and didn’t qualify for postseason play.
“Individually, it’s nice and it’s great that people want to recognize what I did on the court, but, as a whole, I would’ve rather won the conference title,” Troost says.
A team-first approach fits both players’ personalities. Along with fellow seniors Kelsi Myers, Colleen Carlson and Aston Basch, they want to finish their USD career on a high note. “We’re a close-knit group and it makes us work that much harder,” Troost says of the seniors. “And I think the younger girls on the team want to win a championship for us.” — Ryan T. Blystone