Our Roots Run Deep

Monarch volleyball athletes give their incites on head coach John Svehla resigning and assistant coach Priscilla O’Dowd becoming the new head volleyball coach.


Ann Ziebarth

Volleyball seniors, Karli Ahlers, Lily Ziebarth, Sam Riggs, Kenzy Povich, and Allison Sander pose with coaches John Svehla, Justice Stalder, and Priscilla O’Dowd with the district championship plaque. This was Svehla’s last district championship win before resigning.

Lily Ziebarth, Entertainment editor

After three years of being the head coach for the varsity volleyball team, going to state all three years, reaching the semi finals his second year,  and having a record of 82-25 in wins, coach John Svehla decided to resign as the head coach to focus on his family.

The athletic director, Jason Ryan, named Priscilla O’Dowd as the new head coach of the volleyball department. O’Dowd was one of the five assistant coaches under Svehla during the 2021-22 fall season.

It can be quite a shock for people to find out that Svehla was resigning from being head coach. No one really expected this to happen so early and after three successful seasons.

“I was very shocked to hear John resigned from his position because he seemed to really enjoy coaching us and gave no visible signs that he wasn’t coming back again,” senior right side Allison Sander said. “He also discussed where the volleyball program would go in future years, talking about it as if he would be still coaching for it.”

Some of the current and former players that have been coached by him had many different emotions flowing through their mind.

“As a player playing for the same coach for most of my high school season it’s hard to see a change like that especially when we have made a bond with John,” junior outside hitter Anna Sis said. “We were all very sad but we all know he will still be around and cheering us on.”

O’Dowd has had a successful volleyball background under her belt to help her achieve this head coach position. 

As a senior in high school, she was All-Nebraska First Team and All-State Class A First team at Papillion-La Vista High School. Then she moved on to be a four year middle starter for Midland’s volleyball team. While at Midland she was the Four-Time All-GPAC first-team selection, a Four-Time All-American, and earned four selections to the NAIA National Championship All-Tournament Team.

O’Dowd has been an assistant for three years under Svehla and now she has earned a spot to continue coaching but as the head coach for this volleyball program.

“I think Priscilla as head coach wouldn’t be much different, the expectations from the players and program will still be the same,” Sis said. “As a new coach I think she will have fire to add to the team.”

Adding a recognizable face for the new head coach position can be very beneficial to the program and they will know what will be best for the program in order to make it better.

“I think the changes made to the program will all be positive and beneficial to the future of the team,” sophomore outside hitter Morgan Glaser said, “I think Priscilla will implement changes to help our program.”

O’Dowd has many good qualities to help her throughout this new position for her and the team to be successful in the 2022-23 fall season.

“Her volleyball IQ is very high so she really knows how the game operates and some good strategies to go with it,” Sander said. “She is also a very kind person but knows when to be firm when we need it the most.”

Many players on the team did not expect this to be a quick decision to find a new coach after being told two days before the announcement that Svehla decided to resign. 

“I didn’t expect this decision to come so quickly. I was thinking it would take until next semester at least for our school to find a new head coach,” Glaser said.

With a former assistant coach and past player stepping up to be head coach, O’Dowd truly shows how the monarch program’s roots run deep.