(Editor’s note: Montana State University media release)
BOZEMAN – Daniel Jones enters his second season at the helm of the Montana State volleyball program after leading the Bobcats to a 10-15 overall mark and a 6-10 Big Sky Conference slate last season in an interim role. Both totals doubled MSU’s outcomes from the 2016 campaign.
MSU’s first practice of the season will be held in Shroyer Gym on Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m.
This season, and officially as Montana State’s 11th head coach in the history of the program, Jones is focused on getting the Bobcat squad back into the upper-echelons of the Big Sky Conference, where it soared in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Montana State has made only one Big Sky Tournament appearance (2012) in over a decade.
Jones, who served as an assistant for two years under JJ Riley, will see his fourth class hit the court this fall. And, he’s more than confident the Bobcats have all the fixings to make some noise in the Big Sky Conference.
“I feel like the ingredients are all there, it’s our job now to make the mix and bake it,” Jones said. “And, we all know that those of us who have tried cooking or baking, it’s hard. It’s not always easy. Just because you follow a predetermined path, doesn’t mean it’s going to work out.
“I don’t see holes in our roster. My job is to bring it all together.”
Like last season, a youthful Bobcat squad will look to mesh in non-conference action, before opening Big Sky play on Sept. 20 when it hosts Portland State. Twelve of MSU’s 17 rostered players are underclassmen with 13 having been in the Bobcat program for two years or less. The Cats return four starters along with libero Allyssa Rizzo to the College Hill.
“I’m really excited about the brand of volleyball we’re going to be playing,” Jones stated. “We’re going to play a fast offense that will set our hitters up with opportunities they haven’t seen and have success that we’re not accustomed too.
“We’re going to play tenacious defense,” he added. “The focus in the spring was on us playing better defense and really nailing down our defensive systems. That was reflected in the few spring outings that we had. I was really happy with our defense in those moments.”
The Bobcats will open its season with an exhibition match against Carroll College on Aug. 20, before opening the regular-season at the Cleveland State Tournament against Canisius on Aug. 24.