After placing third in the Top of Iowa West and advancing to the Class 1A regional semifinals last season, Bishop Garrigan volleyball brings a very different looking group into the 2023 season.
Gone are the now graduated Molly Joyce, Audi Crooks, and Ashlyn Hovey, all of whom earned all-conference honors in the Top of Iowa West last season, as well key role-players Maggie Vaske and Eva Snyder. In their place are a group of players who are ready to step into new and bigger roles this season. Golden Bear Head Coach Dave Schnurr says not having an all-conference returner is a unique situation for the team.
According to Schnurr, a big part of the equation is figuring out what the front row will look like, with other decisions being made from there.
Bishop Garrigan returns four players who appeared in at least twenty matches last season. Senior Avery Lichter, who appeared in all 30 matches, will see a lot of time in the front row after playing a lot in the back row last season. The Golden Bears will also return sophomore Emmi Bartolo, who recorded the most service aces last season of any Golden Bear returner, as well as junior Zoe Montag, who finished second on the team with 37 blocks.
Schnurr has also been impressed by what senior Violet Bode has brought to the floor in terms of passing and communication.
Although many of the six seniors on the roster did not see much playing time as juniors, Schnurr says they stepped up and set the tone throughout the offseason.
The Golden Bears finished last season with a 19-11 record, including 6-2 for conference play for third place in the Top of Iowa West behind Lake Mills and Forest City, two teams which have finished first and second in the conference every year of its existence. Schnurr feels Lake Mills and Forest City are still the class of the conference, but there are a lot of teams that could occupy the middle spots.
According to Schnurr, it will take some time to figure decide on the specific goals for the team while position battles are being figured out, but in the meantime he expects the Golden Bears to continue to live up to their identity as a scrappy team.
Bishop Garrigan opens the season on Thursday, August 24th with a visit to Belmond-Klemme, before competing at the St. Edmond Invitational on Saturday, August 26th.