BILLINGS – High school volleyball teams generally start the season in a spot they hope to finish: tournament play.

So far, so good for Billings Central’s girls.

As the Rams work out this week, they’re coming off a tournament championship in Glendive. Central swept Belgrade in the title match to win the season-opening Central A tip-off.

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A big reason? Better play from the back row.

“Definitely happy to see how we competed,” said Lady Rams coach Kylie Reitz. “I think back to last year, the first we did this tip-off tournament, and how we made it to the championship. But it was ugly, so with having more experience and kids that have played together more, it was a lot prettier, the way we won. We had some kids who had some gritty performances, so I always like to see that.”‘

Veteran player Sydney Hawbaker is quick to make sure younger teammates keep the early season in perspective.

“It’s a long season,” she said. “I know everyone gets frustrated at the beginning when you’re not where you want to be, and you struggle. You’ve just got to tell them to relax and that it takes time. And when you get to divisionals and state at that time, you’ll be ready and confident in yourself.”

Central’s girls play at the Border Wars tournament Friday and Saturday in Cody, Wyo.

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