Published 8:31 pm Saturday, August 13, 2011

Alden-Conger volleyball coach Jolene Bute retuns to her alma mater where she played volleyball as a high schooler. Bute was the coach last season at United South Central High School. -- Garrett Wampler

Volleyball coach returns to alma mater to rebuild program

ALDEN — The Alden-Conger volleyball squad enters the 2011 season with a new coach, a new court and a brand new attitude.

This season the Knights will be lead by Jolene Bute, who returns to the Alden-Conger volleyball court since her playing days for the school.

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“I think they have a great attitude coming into the year,” said Bute, who has been the head coach at United South Central for the past three seasons. “They know that I’m here and willing to help them and I see them work really hard for me.”

Bute has had plenty of success coaching volleyball. All three of her seasons with the Rebels resulted in win totals well above the .500 mark. She faces quite the opposite levels of success with Alden-Conger, a team that finished the 2010 campaign with a mark of 4-20.

A challenge is something that Bute doesn’t mind facing.

“I love the fact that if we can take these kids from not winning a lot of games and they don’t really have polished skills to being a successful program,” Bute said. “That is going to be so exciting.”

She began to tackle this challenge by setting up a feeder program with the fourth, fifth and sixth grades in Alden. Bute said it will take a while to develop the kids but she has been volunteering her time with the younger kids to build a base for players in the future.

“I feel like we haven’t had a program started from the 4th grade on up,” she said. “They’re coming a long ways but there is a long ways to go.”

The fourth year coach will look to a few of the veteran players to make an impact this season. She said Brittany Waters will be someone to watch at middle hitter. Allison Songstad and Kelsey Behnke are going to share the setting duty, which will anchor the Knights offensive attacks.

As far as strategy, the Knights have been employing a 5-1 formation over the last few season, which features one setter and five hitters. Bute feels with the personnel on this season’s team a new 6-2 formation is what they will use this year and will fit their needs by using two setters and four hitters.

Her hopes are that the team can double their win total and win at least eight matches this year,” she said. “It’s going to be one step at a time.”

The first step will be to teach the kids the basics and build from there. She wants them to master the correct way to pass the ball, the correct way to serve and other technical aspects of the game.

She was originally offered the job in late February and March, and from there she began implementing her programs, which she wants to do on an annual basis. As a coach, Bute believes she brings many attributes that are key to a successful team including love, passion and drive for the sport of volleyball.

“It’s my love and passion for the game and my drive to win,” Bute said. “I don’t care what I’m doing, I want to win and I’m going to do what it takes to achieve those goals.”

The coach will return to her local roots where she began playing the game. She grew up between Wells and Freeborn until she left for college to play at Bethany College and St. Cloud State University.

From there she coached the three seasons at USC, which she said was a great experience and she had great athletes and some good support from parents.

“When the opportunity came about this winter I was really excited,” she said. “I have kids that go to school here, my business is in town here and there are great athletes coming up. My biggest thing is I want to build a program.”