SHICKLEY - Last season, Bruning-Davenport/Shickley’s theme was “Up to You.”

Head coach Kari Jo Alfs took her team to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, where they saw a giraffe. That became the teams’ adopted mascot, as a stuffed giraffe accompanied BDS all the way from summer workouts to the championship match in Lincoln, where the Eagles topped Ewing in five thrilling sets last November.

There’s no giraffe this year. BDS’ new theme/s in 2019 is “show us.” There’s also a big emphasis on serving.

“Our coaches want us to show how much time and effort you can put in during the summer,” senior setter and outside hitter Regan Alfs said. “We have hands that are kind of like our serving hands. We’re getting really big into giving back to the communities. We’ve been working up in Lincoln on some service projects, and want to keep doing that throughout the year.”

Kari Jo Alfs, Regan’s mother, has challenged the team to become better at serving and passing on the court. She’s also pushing the team to serve better off the court.

“I also challenge the girls to serving in the community,” the fifth-year head coach said. “We had a team bonding experience in Lincoln last weekend. We went and volunteered at a daycare. So, we’re kind of doing a dual purpose with ‘serving hands’ both on the court and out in the communities.”

BDS was certainly a good serving team last year. Volleyball serving. The Eagles knocked down 246 ace serves as a team, en route to a 28-4 record and the cooperatives’ first volleyball title.

The Eagles ended 2018 on a 17-match winning streak, and that momentum has carried over. Yes, first-team all-state outside hitter Jadyn Kleinschmidt has graduated. She led BDS last year in digs (254), kills (288), serve receptions (487) and ace serves (70).

Kleinschmidt was a mainstay in her four years, but the Eagles lost only four seniors. BDS had nine girls who played regularly at the varsity level last year, and five have returned.

Regan Alfs, who led her team to a third place finish in the Class D2 state basketball tournament in late-February, looks to lead another team back to the capital city this year. The first-team all-state setter was second on the team a year ago with 218 kills and 318 assists.

Of course, she’d love to help get her mother and teammates another state championship. But overall, Regan’s goals for senior year are pretty straight forward.

“My overall goal is to have fun,” she said, “and just play together as a team. And, I think if we really work for that goal, we’ll be there at the end and have the opportunity to make it back to Lincoln and do great things.”

BDS has already been making noise even before school started. The team took part in a number of summer camps, most notably taking first at the Nebraska Top 10 - a volleyball invitational in Kearney specifically for the state’s top talent in late July and early August.

The Eagles swept Meridian of Class D1 to take the gold medal.

“It really showed us what we could work on and made us a better team,” Regan said. “You can’t win every set, so we just learned from our mistakes, and came out on top still. We kept our composure and had fun.”

That’s exactly what BDS did in 2018 - kept their composure and had fun. The Eagles appear, once again, ready to compete with the very best in Class D2.

Besides Regan, second-team all-stater Macy Kamler, a junior and middle-blocker, brings plenty of experience to the table with 168 kills, 182 digs and a team-best 47 blocks last season.

Jordan Botle, a junior, will be reliable again this year after she tallied 120 digs and a team-high 364 assists as the team’s setter in 2018.

Last season was full of big moments for BDS, and it ended on the biggest moment possible. Not just the state title, but the four seniors gave Kari Jo Alfs her 100th career win to end her fourth season as coach.

Now, in her fifth year, Kari gets the chance to coach Regan for one more season. Together, the two have accomplished a lot for BDS. They don’t like to talk volleyball much at home, though.

“After a loss, she sits on one couch, and I sit on the other,” Kari joked. “Volleyball’s not even brought up.”

Even if they don’t talk about it off the court, Kari, Regan and everyone around them can see that 2019 has the chance to be just as special as 2018.

“We don’t talk a lot of volleyball at home,” Kari said of her daughter, “but, she’s obviously very excited. She sees the potential that we have, and I see the potential that we have.”

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.