BILLINGS — You might think Rocky Mountain College junior volleball players Makenna Bushman and Blythe Sealey would be fierce rivals as they went to high school in Joliet and Roundup, respectively.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“It's a little crazy — surreal — just because we had grown up together playing against each other. It's always been competition against, smack talk against, but now it's been amazing to get to know her as a person," Sealey said. "We just kind of have this weird chemistry together on the court and this weird connection. I feel like I can trust her in any situation. Any type of ball I give her I feel like she can put it down."
“It's good to have familiar faces, and also other Class B kids. There aren't a lot of kids from Class B, Class C sometimes that are in college sports, so it's good to have another person that was from the same kind of cultural background as you. We both kind of graduated from small classes," Bushman said.
Sealey admits she finds herself setting her roommate Bushman a little more often than not, but it’s turned out well for the Battlin’ Bears. The all-conference duo helped lead Rocky to a Frontier Conference tournament title and a trip to the NAIA national tournament last season — something they hope to build on.
“We start off with it's a new year and a new team. Nothing is given to us. We've got to fight back for that spot. We definitely are going in with a lot of confidence for returning players and a different expectation. We don't want to just win a game, we want to win the conference and go on another trip to nationals," Bushman said.
Rocky opens the season on Aug. 18, but they won’t play in the Magic City until Sept. 19, meaning the Bears will play more than 15 consecutive matches on the road.
“It helps when you have so many girls in the same major. They're always doing homework together, always meeting up and going to classes together, then coming to practice together. That keeps us on top of it, then also our grade checks," Sealey said.
They’ll be putting that student-athlete moniker to the test early on.