BOZEMAN – Last year the Montana State volleyball team missed the conference playoff by inches and they say this year will be different.
“There’s just a different feeling in the gym that’s almost indescribable. So it’s really cool to be a part of,” said sophomore Kelsie White.
It’s a new season for the Montana State volleyball team, but it’s being influenced by last year. In 2017, the Bobcats were one game out of making the Big Sky Conference playoffs. And they are using that as fuel this go-around.
“They’ve been able to bring a heat and an intensity all summer that has been unmatched in my four years here,” said Bobcats head coach Daniel Jones. “So it’s been really exciting to see that and I think that’s a result of them being so close that they could taste it, but not quite getting what they wanted.”
Not only is the energy noticeably different, the size of the Bobcats’ roster has increased, quite literally.
“We’ve brought in a lot of height. I think the average size of the seven that we’ve brought in is 6-foot-1,” Jones said. “We addressed what we felt was a height issue in the class. But I think with that we’ve brought in power and athleticism, as well. It’s not just tall kids who are going to stand there. It’s tall kids who can move and jump really well.”
Recruiting has been huge for Jones, because it finally feels like this is his team. He was officially named the head coach this offseason after serving one year in the interim role.
“You start out with the security of knowing, ‘This is my program and what we’re doing now is what we’re going to be doing for a long time.’ So we are laying a foundation down with that long-term vision,” Jones said.
But what about the short-term vision? Ask any Bobcat and they will tell you exactly what it is.
“Big Sky tournament, for sure, and we want to win, and this is a team that we really believe can do that this year. So we got all cylinders firing this season,” said senior Natalie Passeck.
“I think it’s a sense of confidence, and also urgency, that we know we have a mission and we know what we want and we are not going to settle for less,” White added.
Montana State opened up its season this week at the Cleveland State tournament, defeating Canisius College and Binghamton. The Bobcats’ loss came to the hosts of the tournament, the Cleveland State Vikings. The Bobcats hit the road again on Thursday for three games at the University of Portland Tournament.