The Lady Bulldogs volleyball team goes out on the road for their first match this Thursday, August 24, at Sisseton. Milbank’s roster features seven returning letter winners, including four starters. Nancy Hoeke, who is embarking on her 23rd year coaching Milbank, calls this, “a good base to build on.” She says the four returning starters “have solid experience.”
Rachel Schulte, now a 5’6″ senior, led the team in kills last year. She put up the second- highest number of digs, the second-highest number of aces, and the second-highest number of blocks.. She also landed a place on the 2022 Northeast All-Conference Team. Schulte will be setting this season. Skyler Skoog, now a 5′ 8″ senior, was second in kills. Claire Snaza, who posted the most blocks last year, will be looking to raise her kill performance. Snaza is a junior who stands at 5′ 11″. Addisyn Krause, also a junior, who tops out at just 5′ 2″, produced the most aces for the Lady Bulldogs last season. She is known as a tough server and a scrappy defensive player.
Kelli Hoff Pillatzki and Nicole Berg will serve as assistant coaches alongside Hoeke. Hoeke collected her milestone 400th win last season and holds a career record of 410-227-5 in her 33 years as a volleyball coach. The trio guided Milbank’s 2022 team to a 19-11 record overall and 8-2 in the conference. It was the Lady Bulldogs’ best record in six years.
“Last year, we achieved the goal of having a better than .500 record and that’s another good goal to shoot for this year,” Hoeke commented. “We need to learn how to beat the teams with winning records. It’s not enough to want to win. Getting to a place mentally, knowing there’s a job to get done, and then playing as a team and believing in each other is something we will work towards. We will continue concentrating on strategy, being competitive, and playing with more intensity, purpose, and energy.”
Quite a few teams are hoping to derail Milbank’s plans, though, and Hoeke sees Redfield and Roncalli at the top of that list. “Hamlin has been at the top for a few years,’ she notes, “but I think they’ll drop back a little after losing some outstanding players. They will still be competitive because their returning players have expectations.”
The upcoming season is full of opportunities for the Lady Bulldogs and should provide plenty of excitement for Milbank fans. “On any given night, teams in the NEC can beat each other,” Hoeke surmised. “There might be five to seven teams that if they “show up” that night, they could be pretty good.”
Photo: Seniors on the team– Abigail Pillatzki, Kaitlyn Huber, Hailey Zinter, Skyler Skoog, Shaylee Schuchard, Rachel Schulte.