Jim Kozisek returns for a second stint as Aquin’s volleyball coach | Sports


It has been two decades since Jim Kozisek led Aquin’s Catholic volleyball program. He coached the Monarchs from 2001 to 2002 and this summer Kozisek returns to the same position.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in volleyball, but there’s a lot of excitement around the program,” Kozisek said. “There’s history there. Just something I want to be a part of.”

Kozisek described the reunion as a homecoming after spending the past 20 years working with social services. Before that, he taught as a teacher to Thomas Aquinas.

Although this is a new group of players, the same traits that make up an Aquinas volleyball team have not changed.

“Aquin’s volleyball has a history. The game has changed. New faces, but the work ethic is still there. The competition is tougher,” Kozisek said. “We belong to a tough conference and it was tough then, but it’s just as tough if not tougher now. Lots of excitement around the program and a great group of girls to work with.”

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The Monarchs finished last season 12-21, losing to eventual state bronze medalist Nebraska Christian in the sub-district final. They faced a tough schedule as a D-1 side last year playing 21 games against C-1 and C-2 competitions. Eleven games were against state qualifiers, including two against C-1 State Champion Lincoln Lutheran and one against D-1 Champion Howells-Dodge.

The Centennial Conference is arguably the best volleyball conference in the state. In C-1, he held three of the top four state finishers. Lincoln Lutheran defeated Kearney Catholic in the state championship game and Grand Island Central Catholic placed fourth. Fremont Bergan was the state runner-up in D-1 and Wahoo Neumann and Hastings St. Cecilia qualified for the state in C-1 and C-2, respectively.

“Competition at the Centennial Conference is very tough. It’s been tough for a number of years, so be prepared for tough competition. It was like that 20 years ago and still like that today. “, said Kozisek. “We’re just leaning on our survival in conference play. We learn a new attack compared to last year. We have a group of new starters, so we’re just working on team chemistry.

Thomas Aquinas is looking to turn the corner and finish above .500 for the first time since 2018. The Monarchs improved their win total by two games last year and they hope to keep that momentum going despite the graduation of four starters in Aubrey Novacek, Trista Birkel, Grace Reiter and Gracyn Wollmer.

“I kind of followed the volleyball team. My daughter actually plays softball, so I haven’t really had a chance to see them play much. I followed them,” Kozisek said. “I know the girls from other sports and through community activities, so I knew most of the girls before the start of the season. They get along really well. Good team chemistry.”

Kozisek said he was enthusiastic about the team’s skills and their mix of experience with the youngsters.

“Very athletic group. They have some experience,” he said. “The newcomers bring a lot to the table. We have great team chemistry and good leadership.”

Thomas d’Aquin is back in C-2 this year after a year in D-1. Kozisek’s vision for the program has a strong and solid foundation.

“Good skills,” he said. “The simple things for us to be consistent in what we do and just have a good knowledge of volleyball and continue that knowledge of volleyball.”

Sam Ficarro is a sports journalist at The Banner-Press. Contact him by email at [email protected]

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