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Role reversal

Recent Hayfield alum returns to coach volleyball

 

HAYFIELD — A recent Hayfield grad is making the ultimate service return with the Vikings this fall.

It has been just a shade under seven years since Jo (Bungum) Kruger played her final match with the Hayfield volleyball team, but she’s already back with the team as head coach of the entire program. Kruger graduated from Hayfield in 2015 after playing volleyball and basketball with the Vikings.

She went on to play both sports for Rochester Community and Technical College.

She began as the C squad coach for Hayfield’s volleyball team and moved up to the head coaching job this fall, where she already has the Vikings off to a 2-0 start.

“The first match was very overwhelming. I was very nervous and to have it go five sets makes it a game I’ll never forget,” Kruger said.

Kruger has now turned the corner from that first victory and she’s focused on turning the Vikings into perennial contenders. She wants the team to compete at a high level and she wants the Vikings to become reacquainted to playing playoff matches in Mayo Civic Center, where the team hasn’t played in three years.

“I’m still so competitive, so I treat my coaching role as if I was a player. I want to win and I want to practice hard” Kruger said. “I compete in practice with the girls like I was in a game. I still feel like I’m a player in a way.”

Hayfield volleyball player Haeven Skjervem said the team is enjoying playing under Kruger. Skjervem was one of the players who played under Kruger at the C squad level.

“I have a few memories of her from when she went to high school here, but I didn’t watch varsity games back then,” Skjervem said. “When she came up as the C squad coach, I was really excited to have a player coaching us. She really helped us and she knew the game. This season, we’ve seen with her how the change is coming. We’re playing a lot looser (than years past).”

Hayfield volleyball player McKenna Chick said that Kruger has had instant impact with the Vikings.

“She understands us and she gets where we’re coming from. She can relate to us,” Chick said. “We’ve been running different plays, which throws the other team off. We’re kind of taking it to the next level and some of us are starting to jump serve now.”

Most of Hayfield’s players were in fifth or sixth grade when Kruger was playing for Hayfield, which means that she has seen them grow by leaps and bounds.

“It’s been nice to see their growth over the years,” Kruger said. “It’s been nice to be in the program and I know what’s been going on. My coaching staff has been awesome and knowing the girls has made the transition so much easier.”

Hayfield will play at Blooming Prairie at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.