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Volleyball: Schlegel's return brings consistency to Spring Valley

Kelli Schlegel (right), a Spring Valley native, will make her return as the Cardinals' head volleyball coach in the 2018 season. Schlegel originally served as the Cardinals' head coach from 2007-2015, but took time off to mother her three young children. Now she's back for the long run. Photo courtesy of Kelli Schlegel

Kelli Schlegel is returning to Spring Valley's volleyball court; this time with three new assistant coaches: her seven-year-old, five-year-old and two-year-old.

Schlegel, a 2002 Spring Valley Middle/High School graduate, previously coached the Cardinals from 2007-2015 but stepped down from the position when she was expecting her third child, Kesli.

"Once I got ready to have my third child, I just felt like it was time for me to take a step back," Schlegel said. "Now my oldest two are in second grade and kindergarten, so they're old enough to be in the gym with me. It was good to be away, but now I'm excited to be back."

Her excitement to return to her former coaching position hasn't blinded her of the realities her new schedule of being a coach and mother of three will bring, however.

"There are definitely going to be sometimes when there is a struggle, but my focus is going to be on the team," Schlegel said. "I'm ready to come back; I'm fully committed and I'm ready to work with these girls."

Schlegel's dedication to her team shouldn't be under question.

While away from her coaching duties, Schlegel made sure to check in with her uncle Ross Keehr, who coached with his niece and remained a varsity assistant coach while she was away, to keep tabs on how her team was doing.

"We kept in contact and he (Keehr) would ask me questions and I'd give a little bit of my two cents," Schlegel said. "I know a lot about the girls and a couple of them I've coached in club volleyball out in Menomonie."

Spring Valley athletic director Matt Ducklow was pleased to welcome back the familiar face who made her way up in the Spring Valley volleyball program by coaching the C Team while still in college at UW-River Falls.

"Kelli was our head coach for a number of years and knows the girls and the game of volleyball," Ducklow said. "She will be a great addition to our staff at Spring Valley."

Schlegel's knowledge of her players is matched with a high level of expectations for the team that was 11-15 in the 2017 season. "We haven't really come up with our goals yet for this year, but I know my goal is definitely to be above .500," Schlegel said. "I strongly think that this team is capable of that. I'd like to shoot for top three in the conference. I think those are achievable."

For herself, Schlegel already has one goal in mind: keeping consistency in the Spring Valley volleyball program.

"I've coached both of my sisters and three of my sisters-in-law and now my nieces are coming up and my kids will be up there one day, so I'm definitely here for the long run," Schlegel said. "The (coaching) turnover is hard on the girls and it's hard on the community. Keeping some consistency is definitely key for the program."