Algona volleyball enters 2023 looking for their core group of players to take the next step after a solid offseason of work.
Head Coach Missy Birkey says the team was able to get lots of live action in over the offseason.
Birkey enters her second year as the head coach of the program, and feels the players have gotten used to the program in year two.
According to Birkey, there are strong numbers throughout all levels of the program.
A new core group will step up and take center stage this season, as the Bulldogs graduated their top three kills and service ace leaders from last season. Much of the spotlight falls on the junior class, as juniors make up half of the varsity roster heading into the season. Ryan Haynes and Casey VanOtterloo appeared in all of Algona’s matches during their sophomore campaigns, with Paige Schmitt playing in all but two.
Schmitt will be relied on as a setter for Algona’s attack, as she finished last season leading the Bulldogs with 437 assists, second most in the North Central Conference. Junior Andi Jensen was second on the team last season with 147 assists, and will be a key part of the equation for the Bulldogs once again. Birkey feels the junior and senior classes complement each other well.
Senior Najolie Price is another key returner who will be relied on to be a centerpiece for the Bulldogs. Price led the North Central Conference with 53 block solos last season, also recording the most kills of any Algona returner with 93.
The Bulldogs finished last season with a record of 14-19 overall, tying for third in the North Central with a 4-3 mark in conference matches, losing in straight sets in the class 3A regional quarterfinals against Estherville Lincoln Central. Birkey sees a balanced league ahead of the 2023 season.
Birkey wants the team to do the small things right throughout the season.
Algona opened up the season on August 22nd, winning the Early Bird Invitational at Okoboji. The first North Central Conference match for the Bulldogs will be August 31st at Clear Lake.