BILLINGS — Not all trips to the NAIA national tournament are created equal.
The Rocky Mountain College volleyball team is making its second consecutive trip to the opening round, though San Diego sounds a bit more enjoyable than last year's visit to Indiana.
“We might stop at the beach or, I don't know, shopping. We don't have that much shopping here," said the Battlin' Bears' Brooke Ark. "Obviously, California is definitely a plus, but I think we're still very focused on the task at hand. We want to go further than just the opening round."
“We have a few kids who haven't seen the ocean before," Rocky coach Yang Yang said. "I think that's one of the things we're going to do, going to the beach. We're not going to swim. It's cold."
There were some nerves, though, during last weekend’s selection show. After the Bears fell to Montana Western in the Frontier Conference title game, their fate was in the selection committee’s hands.
“Anxiety does set in when you're sitting there waiting for your college's name to come on the screen," Ark said. "I was shaking. I had quite the anxious high afterwards, too. We were pretty pumped."
Win or lose, two consecutive appearances in the national tournament continues the upward trajectory of the Rocky volleyball program. The team returned a ton of pieces from last year and has lived up to lofty expectations this season.
“I think we did a really good job staying positive and knowing we'll be back and just working hard," Yang said.
Rocky’s junior-laden team takes on the University of Saint Katherine on Saturday night in San Marcos, Calif., at 8 p.m. Mountain Time. A win would advance the Bears to pool play at the final site at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City.