Cochrane returns to sidelines for Dodger volleyball
A familiar face returns to the sidelines this fall for the Fort Dodge volleyball program.
Former all-stater and 21-year head coach Toni Cochrane is back after a six-year hiatus. During her first run as head coach, the Dodgers qualified for state in 1997 and 2004, with Cochrane winning over 200 matches.
Cochrane, a member of the Fort Dodge Senior High Hall of Fame, inherits a group of returning letterwinners that includes seniors Kacee Gollob, Ebonee Altman, Brooke Erickson and Tehya Miller and junior Kathryn Cochrane, her daughter.
“The seniors have really taken on that leadership role and have stepped up,” Cochrane said. “That’s definitely helped with the transition back into coaching. We held some open gyms this summer and they were all here putting in the extra work needed to be successful in volleyball.”
Gollob led the Dodgers with 219 kills and 35 aces a year ago and will be asked to repeat that production with the graduation of Beth Murman, who recorded 189 kills and 21 aces.
Altman had 80 kills, Erickson recorded 61 and Cochrane had 14 aces. Hartman was one of the most efficient servers for FDSH at .970, with Gollob successful on 253 of 284 attempts.
“We’ve been stressing movement and defense,” Cochrane said. “We have been making those our goals right now through the preseason. We kind of felt those were two areas we could improve in from last year.
“In this conference, a point or two here or there is the difference in a win or a loss. We are playing really good teams on a nightly basis and we can’t give points away.”
Cochrane was second last year in assists with 173 behind the graduated Josie Shirbroun, with Erickson and Gollob third and fourth. Hartman and Cochrane are the returners in digs, and Gollob led Fort Dodge with 77 blocks last year, including 12 solos.
Prior to her coaching career, Cochrane was named the state’s volleyball player of the year in 1983 and ’84, along with being all-state and on the all-tournament team both seasons. She was a four-year starter at the University of Iowa, as well.
“Volleyball has become a more athletic sport where kids are playing year-round,” Cochrane said. “We’ll play teams with two or three kids going on to college to play volleyball, kids who are competing on the national scene; it’s really become a more athletic game.”
The Dodgers open their season vs. West Des Moines Dowling on Monday night. They host the Jackie Wilde Invitational on Sept. 15 with Alta/Aurelia, Des Moines Christian, Lewis Central, Ridge View and Sioux City West in attendance.
Edgar Baxton, Ashley Fredrick and Mackenzie Alstott will be assistant coaches for Cochrane this year.
2018 FORT DODGE VOLLEYBALL
Seniors — Molly Hartman, Brooklyn Rowden, Brooke Erickson, Ebonee Altman, Tehya Miller, Kacee Gollob, Kyanna Kirk.
Juniors — Kathryn Cochrane, Sierra Love, Emma Bloom.
Sophomore — Kiana Touney.
(All matches at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted)
Aug. 20 — WDM Dowling; 21 — at Dallas Center-Grimes Invitational, 4:30 p.m.; 25 — at Humboldt Invitational, 9 a.m.; 28 — at Ankeny Centennial, 5 p.m.
Sept. 11 — Waukee; 15 — host Jackie Wilde Invitational, 9 a.m.; 18 — Marshalltown; 22 — at Cedar Falls Invitational, 9 a.m.; 25 — at Southeast Polk.
Oct. 2 — WDM Valley; 9 — at Mason City; 13 — at Woodward-Granger Tournament, 9 a.m.