GREAT FALLS — The University of Providence volleyball team made history last year when it won the Frontier Conference tournament, bringing the Argos their first appearance at the NAIA national tournament in school history.
Coming off a historic season, the team enters 2019 as the favorite to repeat as champions in the preseason coaches' poll. The 2019 roster combines experience while also reloading on young talent. Head coach Arunas Duda is keeping the team focused and grounded early in the season.
“We’ve kind of tried to look small. We try to look at ourselves and our daily routine and week-by-week, what we’re trying to accomplish," Duda said. "I think we were successful last year because we followed a process, and if we follow the same process this year with a few tweaks here or there, hopefully we’ll have the same or similar result.”
Returning to the Argos for her senior season is outside hitter Kelsey Shaver, who was an all-conference selection last season. Shaver says the team’s goal this year is pretty simple.
“There’s definitely expectations. Our main goal is to get back to the national tournament and just keep making history for UP," Shaver said. "The preseason polls were kind of a big deal, so we’re pretty excited but we definitely have to prove why we’re the No. 1 seed.”
Duda knows the road to a repeat for Providence won’t be easy. With teams like Rocky Mountain College and Montana Tech hot on their heels, the Argos have their work cut out for them.
“It’s going to be a tough year. The Frontier is stacked from top to bottom. We’ve got some new coaches in the conference. We know they’re good coaches that are going to do great things with their programs," Duda said. "And then we’ve got a lot of good returning coaches that have added some phenomenal recruiting classes. We know that it’s going to be a tough year and every match, you’ve got to show up and play your best.”