Sports

2022 Fall Sports Preview: Lake Mills Volleyball

Coming off their 20th conference title in the past 26 years, the Lake Mills Bulldogs are preparing for another run at the Top of Iowa West. The Bulldogs started to practice on Monday following a week of camp, and you don’t even need to walk into the school building to know the type of work they’re putting in. Just walking within a few feet of the building, you can hear the high-energy bunch working towards their goals.

For the 31st year, the Bulldogs will be under the direction of Jim Boehmer, who – as always – is giddy for the season; if you’ve never seen coach Boehmer in action or had a chance to talk with him about his teams or the game of volleyball. He can be described with the famous cliche phrase ‘like a kid in a candy store.’

That’s no different this year, and even though the Bulldogs lost vital pieces and will be inexperienced in essential areas – Boehmer was fired up with how things are going so far.

“I’ve just been really pleased to this point, I know we’re only on day two of practice, but man, they’re just energic and spirited, said Boehmer.

He wasn’t just talking about volleyball, but the team is also currently fundraising, and he was amazed at the effort for that campaign and how well the fundraising has started, “They’re all in,” he said.

The biggest question coming into this season for the Bulldogs is the setter position. Leah Moen recorded 1,309 assists in 176 sets the past two seasons as Lake Mills’ go-to. Moen served with a nearly 98 percent effectiveness with 36 aces last season.

“The setter position has grown; it will need to continue to grow,” said Boehmer. Karli Helgeson is the oldest of the bunch fighting for playing time at the position. Helgeson played in three sets last year and recorded four assists. Brynn Rogness, a junior who played outside hitter in the past, has been learning the position; she could be used as a utility player this year. Jolie Rice is another upperclassman in the setter bunch, along with multiple underclassmen that Boehmer said, “they’re all really close to being where we want them to be.” 

Senior Ella Stene is returning from a stellar year that got her a first-team all-conference nod. As one of the top returning outside hitters in the area, she will rely on the setters to get her the ball. “At the start of open gyms, that was tough. I hadn’t really worked with any of the girls who are setting before”, Stene said. “I’d say who’ve connected quite well, and we can continue connecting.”

Stene was excited to be named a first-teamer last year, “That was definitely pretty big, that let me know the hard work I was putting in last year was paying off,” she said. Stene continued by saying she is working just as hard this year.

It’s Stene’s last year in purple, and she said it’s weird hearing senior and is sad, but is also excited to help the younger players grow and try to leave the program better for the future. “I can work hard and be the best leader for those around me, and leadership is big for our volleyball team this year. We want to help the younger kids so they can have successful varsity teams when (we go), said Stene.

Classmate Finley Rogstad says this year’s team is “extremely” motivated, “We have some girls on our team to push the younger girls to push themselves,” said Rogstad. She continued by saying, “leadership is a big thing on our team this year. I think we have a lot of good leaders on our team that can step up.”

Rogstad recorded 85 kills in 92 sets and hit .207 last year for the Bulldogs. She also had 25 blocks up front, snagged 173 digs, and served up 30 aces at a 98.8 % effectiveness.

The Bulldogs’ offense will also return the energy of first-team all-conference middle Ellie Hanna. Hanna was arguably one of the best players in the conference last year. She stuffed 77 blocks, 11 solo to go along with a team-high 263 kills, hitting .289. She had a team-high 49 aces in 277 attempts. Her positive energy can be felt on or off the court, and she will be a force for Boehmer and the Bulldogs this season.

The defense is looking strong coming into this season. Taylor Vanek was the only underclassman to be selected for the TIC West First-Team All-Conference. Coach Boehmer was excited with the growth of Vanek in the offseason, “She is locked in. That’s just part of her mentality, her personality”.  

“Just the environment, you can tell everyone is so passionate about volleyball and this program,” Vanek said about the start of practice following camp. “The practices are so fun, especially when we all do well. Everyone is diving all over the floor, getting balls up and hitting really good balls – it’s just such a fun program to be part of, “ she said.

She will be joined by senior Natalie Brandenburg, Rogness, Rogstad, and Boehmer also mentioned junior Sydney Hagen – who hasn’t seen the floor in the past. Still, Boehmer noted that she stood out in the offseason.

The Bulldogs will open the season on August 25th at home against West Hancock. You can once again watch home games on KIOW.com.

AUDIO CLIPS

Coach Boehmer

Q – Talk about the setter position.

Q- How did camp go, and how is practice starting?

Finley Rogstad

Q – In your option, how has practice started?

Q- How motivated is this team?

Q – How is the leadership on this year’s team?

Ella Stene

Q – The setter is essential to your game; how has gone working with different athletes than in the past?

Q – What did it mean to you to be selected as a first-team all-conference player last year?

Q – Your senior season, has it felt different in the gym?

Taylor Vanek

Q – How do you feel practice is going?

Q – Does it add pressure when you walk in and see all the numbers of conference titles on the board?

Q – What did you do this offseason to prepare for the season?

 

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