Bulldogs poised for top of D-1
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family volleyball is putting together an impressive season thus far in the 2018 campaign. The Bulldogs are 14-0 and have only dropped one set as the season approaches the midway point.
The Bulldogs are one of only six undefeated teams left in all of Nebraska, and after Archbishop Bergan lost both games in a triangular on Tuesday, they are the only undefeated team left in D-1. When the new ratings are released by the Lincoln Journal Star next week, Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family is likely to be listed as the top team in the class.
“We’re really proud of the girls,” said head coach Cami Oelsligle. “Only dropping one set that’s gone over 25 points. We’ve only had a couple other close sets. I’m really proud of the girls. They’re stepping up to whatever competition level we have.”
Oelsligle said that she thought the team had the talent to have a special season coming into the year.
“I think that was always our goal,” she said. “We knew we were capable of it, but we knew we had to put some things together, and get working better together and figure out our positions in order to do so.
“We’re really happy with how it’s turned out so far. So yes, it is something we always thought we could do, but to actually be living it is a little bit different. ”
The only set that the Bulldogs have lost all year was back on Sept. 6 in a 28-26 third set loss to North Bend Central in a 3-1 victory.
Oelsligle said that she is reminding her team all the time not to get overconfident, and to stay motivated.
“Actually I just told the girls today even before practice started that we’re one of only six undefeated teams in the whole state,” she said. “We have two options, we can go and be cocky about it, and be over confident, or we can still be more hungry.
“I talked to them about making sure it’s the hungry option. We have unfinished business yet, and making sure that every day in practice we’re doing what we need to do to make sure that we end up where we want to be.”
Senior Taya Beller has been one of the keys to the success that the Bulldogs have enjoyed this year. She has put together 160 kills in 33 sets played.
“We mesh really well as a team, and we’ve gotten so much better since the first week of practice,” Beller said. “All our attitudes have grown so much since starting the season.”
Despite the early success, Oelsligle says an important next step is staying mentally locked in.
“Making sure that we don’t get complacent,” she said. “That is one of our things that I think we can improve on a little bit. Our last games against West Point-Beemer and Logan View/Scribner-Snyder they were closer than they should have been. We didn’t come out like we can and are able to. So some games we come out really strong and other we have a little bit of a relaxed start and that’s what I think we can really improve on is making sure that we finish every single game.”
The Bulldogs defeated West Point-Beemer 25-15, 25-23 and defeated LVSS 25-17, 25-14 on Thursday night.
Beller shares her coach’s expectations.
“I was hoping so,” Beller said. “The first week of practice I was a little skeptical, but after that first week of practice, we really started meshing. After the jamboree game we realized we have nothing left to lose, so why not just give it our all.”
Despite the impressive attacking numbers that Beller has put up, it’s the defense that Oelsligle pointed to as the strength of HLHF.
“Ultimately I think our defense is what we’re going to be known for,” she said. “You’re going to remember Taya Beller’s swings, you’re going to remember some of the kills she has obviously, but I think our defense is actually where we’re stronger. Our passing and our blocks are pretty good right now.”
And it hasn’t just been a one-player show. Many other Bulldogs have contributed to the 14-0 mark.
“Brittney Veik, she’s our Libero. A lot of times she’s not the one getting the power kill. She’s not the one maybe not making the outstanding stellar save, but she is consistent,” Oelsligle said. “She’s only shanked, not even on a handful, the number of balls this year out of the fourteen games which is pretty impressive.”
Veik also has a serve percentage of 96.3 percent and leads the team in digs and serve receptions with 182 and 208 respectively.
“Brooklyn Magsamen is another (defensive specialist) that does a lot of work in the back row for us, too,” Oelsligle said.
Magsamen has recorded 137 digs on the season.
“So I would say that those two need recognition, same thing for Jessica Olmer,” Oelsligle said. “She does a lot back there. All of those girls need recognition for what they do because they don’t necessarily get it when the big hit comes. Fans remember the hit, they don’t remember the pass that started it.”
Olmer has 26 kills, a 89.4 serve percentage, 30 blocks, 84 digs, 42 assists and 58 serve receptions.
The next game for Humphrey/Lindsay Holy family will be 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday in a home game against Pender.
There are still several tests left on the schedule. The Bulldogs play No. 8 Twin River as part of its four-team tournament on Oct. 6 and face and No. 7 Battle Creek 12 days later.
Beller pointed to two main things that have set the Bulldogs apart from other teams this season.
“We have a really athletic bunch this year and we all have great attitudes,” she said. “No matter what happens off the court, we’ve all decided to leave it behind us and just play ball.”
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org