BILLINGS – This is the Taylor Mims we remember: a dominant force in the middle who led Billings Senior to three straight state titles, as maybe the best player Montana has ever seen. 

This is Taylor Mims now: still an imposing figure, but playing a whole new part.

“I think I’ve been a middle (blocker) my entire life,” said Mims. “In high school, back in Montana, you guys know I’d be a middle. Now I’m an outside hitter. Big change, big difference, but I’m learning a lot.”

“It’s hard to go from something you’re so used to to the outside, especially when you have to pass, dig and do all those things,” said Cougars volleyball coach Jen Greeny. “She is coming along really nicely.”

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Usually a position change comes when the first one isn’t working out, but that wasn’t the case at all for Mims. She was a freshman starter at Washington State back in 2015 and was an honorable mention all-American last season. She doesn’t see any reason that can’t happen again.

“I would love to strive for that,” Mims agreed. “I think if I was in the middle, I have a steady ground in the middle, but the new position and with new players, there are all-Americans in the Pac-12 all around, so hopefully I can fit in there someday.”

So far, so good. Wazzu is 12-2, with the only losses coming to top 25 schools. Mims was named MVP of the Cougars’ most recent tournament in Missouri and tied her career high with 20 kills against seventh-ranked Washington last Wednesday. She credits the fast start to a summer session in Europe with the U.S. Collegiate National.

“That was amazing. The style of play and everything over there really changed me as a player,” said Mims. “To play as a right side over there, as well, made me open up to playing new positions.”

“The first time she was on an airplane was her official visit here to Pullman,” smiled Greeny. “For her to have that experience of going to Europe and playing, not only against the best in the Pac-12 but some of the best in the entire world, is invaluable.”

That also opened Mims’ eyes to the possibility of volleyball after college. But for now, the junior team captain is living in the moment.

“All I can think is that we can go up from here,” said Mims. “This is a baseline of what everyone can see and we can only go up.”

Her coach is still trying to imagine what the ceiling might be.

“She’s going to continue to get better and better,” Greeny said. “People really need to take notice of what Taylor Mims is doing, and I think with every week that goes along, they certainly will.”