The Carroll College volleyball team runs through drills during practice. (MTN Sports photo)

HELENA – For more than a decade Maureen Boyle has led the Carroll College volleyball program to great heights. 2016 looks to be no different.

The Fighting Saints were selected as the preseason runner-up in the Frontier Conference volleyball coaches poll. Carroll overcame a 3-7 start in 2015 to earn a share of the league’s regular season championship. Boyle was named conference coach of the year.

Only three seniors – Natalie Kassa, Jonni Dorr and Paige Montgomery – return from the 2015 season, but a conference championship again appears within reach.

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“This is a very, very determined group of girls and the expectations are up here,” said Kassa, the team’s defensive specialist. “Every day in practice we try to reach that bar and bump it up a little higher to put an edge on ourselves to be the best we possibly can.”

“We have those expectations for ourselves so it’s nice that people think highly of us but we have to prove it,” added Dorr. “We take it seriously and we work hard to maintain or beat what people expect of us.”

Carroll earned three wins in four tries on the team’s first road trip, including a come-from-behind five-set victory against Northwest University in the first match of the season.

“It was a lot of fun. Mostly successful – 3-1 record so we were excited about that,” Dorr said of the team’s trip through Washington and Oregon. “Obviously we have some things to work on. Serving, blocking, all of it really. Everything can always improve. It was a great start. We’ve never really had a start like that so it was exciting.”

The Saints return home on Thursday, August 25 to face Evergreen State College – a team they beat in four sets less than a week ago. Still, athletes understand improvement is necessary from game to game.

“Kind of just fundamental things. Focusing on the little things,” said Kassa. “When everyone does their job we can go so far.”

Following Thursday’s match against Evergreen State, Carroll will travel to the Butte Civic Center for the third annual Big Sky Volleyball Challenge. For the past two seasons, the tournament has been split between Helena and Butte.

The Saints will face Eastern Oregon and Concordia on Friday before squaring off against Corban – their lone loss this season – and Dickinson State on Saturday.

The Carroll College volleyball team runs through drills during practice. (MTN Sports photo)
The Carroll College volleyball team runs through drills during practice. (MTN Sports photo)

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