"All of them have a lot of talent," said Le Mars head volleyball coach Susan Irwin. "So that's exciting."
The Lady Bulldogs lost two seniors, Jacelle Neill and Jenni Theisen, from last year's 21-15 team that lost to the Class 3A state runner-up, Bishop Heelan Catholic, in the regional quarterfinal.
Among the returning seniors is unanimous All-Lakes Conference First Team selection Erin Kommes. She led Le Mars with 225 kills. Kommes, an outside hitter, was also third on the team in serving efficiency (94.5 percent) and digs (113).
Kommes battled injuries during the offseason, but she is practicing with the team and Irwin says she is ready for the season.
Senior Morgan Ohm, All-Lakes First Team, returns as an outside hitter and senior Carolyn Ahlers, All-Lakes Second Team, returns as a middle hitter. Ohm and Ahlers were second and third on the team in kills with 141 and 140, respectively. Ahlers was tied for the team lead with 114 digs and was tied for second-most blocks on the team with 31.
Junior Madison Heidebrink returns at middle and right-side hitter. She was tied for second-most blocks with 31 and fourth in kills (115) last season. Sophomore middle and outsider hitter Britney Thompson led the team in blocks (33) and was fifth in kills (86). Senior Ashley Phelan will be on the court more this year to provide depth at hitter.
Seniors Emily Ellefson and Sydney Rohde are the Lady Bulldogs' two defensive players. Ellefson was second to Pick in assists with 203.
Junior Hailey Purves and sophomores Holly Schneider and Bailey Rol will rotate in off the bench.
"We had a lot to learn this year," Irwin said. "We changed quite a few things. So we're hoping they get comfortable by mid-season."
The Lady Bulldogs have modified their offensive and defensive schemes.
"We'll run a 5-1, but we're running a 3-middle rotation," Irwin said. "So it switches a little bit who is in the middle every time and who is on the outside."
Still, the team's experience should come in handy this season, especially in conference play. Le Mars was 6-1 in Lakes Conference play last season, second only to the 7-0 conference record of Western Christian. The Lady Bulldogs are also much more experienced than many of their conference foes.
"It's always tough to go to Spirit Lake and Emmetsburg and Estherville," Irwin added.
Le Mars will be aiming to contest Western for the top spot.
"We're hoping to stay in second and it would be sure nice to go for first this year," Irwin said.
|Tuesday, Aug. 28||at MOC-Floyd Valley tournament|
|Thursday, Sept. 6||at Sioux City East meet|
|Saturday, Sept. 8||Le Mars Community invitational|
|Tuesday, Sept. 11||Spencer|
|Tuesday, Sept. 18||at Western Christian|
|Thursday, Sept. 20||Emmetsburg|
|Saturday, Sept. 22||at Unity Christian|
|Saturday, Sept. 29||at Thomas Jefferson tournament|
|Tuesday, Oct. 2||at Cherokee|
|Thursday, Oct. 4||Estherville-Lincoln Central|
|Saturday, Oct. 6||at Western Christian invitational|
|Tuesday, Oct. 9||Storm Lake|
|Saturday, Oct. 13||at Bishop Heelan tournament|
|Thursday, Oct. 18||at Spirit Lake|