Passion for the game.

That’s how Boonville Athletic Director Chris Shikles described new head volleyball coach Dina Herzog on leading the Lady Pirates volleyball team for the 2020 season.

Although Herzog is no stranger to coaching volleyball at Boonville, she said it will take her a while to adapt to coaching at the high school level again because it is much quicker now than in 1992 when she coached the Lady Pirates.

Of course Herzog’s passion for the game brought her back to Boonville High School 14 years later. While coaching at Boonville from 1992-2006, the Lady Pirates captured three conference titles in 1996, 1997 and 2005. Boonville also won three straight district titles from 2003-05. Also, in 2004, the Lady Pirates were one match away from advancing to their first ever state tournament before losing to Kansas City O’Hara.

But even after leaving the Lady Pirates program, Herzog continued to coach at the middle school level at LSE and Ss. Peter & Paul.

Herzog said volleyball has been a part of her life since 1977.

“It’s just always something that I have done,” Herzog said. “We are a volleyball family. My husband plays volleyball, my daughters play volleyball and now my grandkids play volleyball. I also love coaching. I told my husband that I was perfectly happy with what I’m doing at this stage of my life, but it’s mainly been the kids.”

Shikles said he couldn’t be more excited to have Coach Herzog back as the head coach for the Lady Pirates volleyball program.

“Coach Herzog not only brings a passion for volleyball, but she brings a passion for Boonville volleyball and I think that is important for us moving foward,” Shikles said. “We’re excited about what she brings as far as experience and her passion for Boonville Pirate volleyball.”

Herzog also knows that a lot of work needs to be done between June and August.

With sports picking back up at the high school level on June 1 in groups of 10, Herzog said she won’t necessarily know how many girls are interested in volleyball until the workouts later in the month.

“I definitely want to have a camp in June,” Herzog said. “I will probably bring in juniors and seniors together and then sophomores as a group and freshmen later on. I would like to have maybe two camps in July. I would also love to invite the junior high coaches to come and see how I practice and get them involved, and then do a camp with those younger kids and get them motivated and excited about the sport also.”

In the meantime, Herzog will try to get to know each athlete and learn their strengths and weaknesses and decide then what type of an offense is best suited for this year’s team.

Shikles said an assistant coach will be announced on the June 24 board meeting.

Herzog said she really doesn’t have a clue what type of an offense she is going to run. What concerns her is the lack of experience offensively with her setter.

The Lady Pirates graduated the starting setter from last year’s team.

“These camps are going to be very important and getting everybody fundamentally ready to do everything,” Herzog said. “I would like to say we are going to run a 5-1 but it’s ok to run a 6-2 if we need to. However, I have to find good hands.”

While finding good hands at the setter position is key, Herzog said fundamentally the kids need to be able to do everything because there are going to be times when you don’t have those hands every game or every year.

Working hard is also a tangible that Herzog has instilled in her players. She said she wants the girls to be able to see that measurable improvement within themselves.

“I want them to work together as a team and go to schools and be competitive,” Herzog said. “I want them to represent Boonville High School. I also want them to set goals and then take an interest in those goals that we set.”

As for short term goals, Herzog said she just wants the girls to be competitive and improve on their skills. She said she also wants the girls to find their strengths so they can put together a competitive team.

“I want to win conference and a district championship,” Herzog said.

As for long term goals, Herzog said she just wants to get the girls passionate again about the sport. She said she remembers the good times when the kids were in the gym and it was a happy family and they were doing things outside of the gym together.

“I want to get them to be passionate and turn them into outstanding women in the community,” Herzog said. “I also want them to be excited about representing Boonville High School. Of course I want to win several district titles and get to state.”

Although Herzog has spent the last five years coaching at Ss. Peter & Paul, she said it starts there with teaching the kids the fundamentals and the love for the game.

After that, she said it’s all about strategy and figuring out how to win games.

“We’re not going to have a 6’-3” outside hitter that’s going to be able to nail it down the lines, so how are we going to minimize that,” Herzog said. “We are going to have to serve aggressively so teams can’t pass to feed their hitters. Putting the puzzle together part of it is exciting. I have been out of it for a while but that’s why I need help with how we are going to win these games.”

Herzog said she also had to convince her husband, Joe, that she wanted to return full-time to coaching at the high school level. She said the two love coaching and are both suckers for kids.

“I told him I’m going to go 100 percent and do this full force,” Herzog said. “He was supportive. It’s a life changer for him because there will be no supper for three months. It will be very different for him but he will be supportive.”

With the game being quicker now compared to 14 years ago, Herzog said she will also have to adjust to playing the best three out of five sets at the varsity level.

“That is going to take some endurance,” Herzog said. “Four games to 25 with the fifth set to 15. Kids are going to have to play well. It’s going to be different. I have the knowledge of how to put together a team, but there are things that I am not going to see. There are going to be parts of the game that are different. The kids are going to have to have patience and realize that’s nobodys fault. A lot of work needs to be done but I think with a coaching staff, we can accomplish that and we can see improvement.”

Herzog said right now there is not a lot of pressure. However once they get in the gym, she said they will begin teaching fundamentals.

“The junior high programs are your feeder programs,” Herzog said. “That’s such a blessing to have those junior high programs and getting those kids to learn the fundamentals, but also to like the sport. Then, when they get to the high school level, it’s just continuing to develop that.”

Of course before any of this could work, Herzog said she had to make sure Ss. Peter & Paul’s program was being taken care of and to make sure principal Alan Lammers was ok with it.

“I’m excited,” Herzog said. “I don’t know how long I will coach at Boonville High School but my goal is to put Boonville volleyball back on the map again and to make it be a team that people have to find out about.”