ODELL - Kandice Jurgens had to ponder for a moment when she thought about how long she's been the head coach of the Diller-Odell volleyball team.

She's entering her sixth season, and her first five have been memorable. Four total state tournament appearances, including a third-place finish in 2014 and runner-up trophies in '15 and '16.

The Griffins missed out in 2017, but got back to the state tournament last year despite missing all-state outside hitter, and now Doane Tiger Kirsten Bures, for most of the season.

"Being able to adjust to anything thrown at them, I think says a lot about how much they compete and their drive to win," Jurgens said.

Diller-Odell faced off against Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family in the opening round of state last November, falling in a five-set heartbreaker.

The Griffins are back this year, with plenty of talent to not only get back to state, but to perhaps raise another banner. Diller-Odell returns their top six attackers, or 95% of their offensive production.

They also bring back their starting setter - junior and Iowa State commit Addison Heidemann. In addition, the top seven blockers and top nine diggers are all back from a season ago.

"I think we have a chip on our shoulder from last year losing (at state)," Heidemann said. "I know I was super sad after we lost, because I totally thought we could make it farther. I think this year, we have everyone back basically, and we have some extra players that we got. I feel like we're ready to go, and this year should be good."

To add to this excitement, Diller-Odell will get to play in a brand-spanking new gym this fall. The $4.9 million facility is set to be finished in just over a week, and will be ready in time for the team's home opener against Falls City Sacred Heart on Sept. 10.

"We're very excited to get out of the (old gym)," Jurgens said. "We'll no longer have to hear 'new gym' every time the ball hits the ceiling every other play. I think it's going to bring a lot of excitement to the girls and the community." 

"We're going to miss this place, but I'm ready for the new gym," senior middle blocker Mackenzie Vitosh said.

With a not-so-quiet confidence, a roster loaded with experience and talent, and a shiny new floor, Diller-Odell volleyball should be a joy to watch this season. Both in Odell, and perhaps, in Lincoln come November.

"I know it's kind if a running joke that we haven't won state," Jurgens joked, "but we're going to get there. I think we have a very, very good shot at that this year. We just have to stay focused and take one game at a time. I think they have a lot they can accomplish, and they're all very determined, so I think it's going to be an exciting year."

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.