BOZEMAN — The Bozeman High volleyball team has a bit of a new look this season after graduating five starters last year and with Devin Jones as its new head coach.
Despite the changes, the team’s goals and expectations remain high.
“I mean as far as walking in as a new coach, I kind of hit the jackpot with these players," Jones said. "They all worked incredibly hard over the summer. All the varsity girls played club at a very high level, so they walked in in great shape mentally and psychically.”
Jones, a Montana native, earned several all-state honors in both volleyball and basketball in high school and then attended Montana Tech on an athletic scholarship.
She brings much experience to her new role as the Hawks coach, and her players have bought in to the new leadership and team look.
“It’s very different than last year, but it’s been super fun because it’s (with) the new group of girls the new coach, it’s all just been fresh," Hawks senior Bria Isley said. "I think we’re really ready to get after it.”
Their coach explained how high the drive of this team is. A smaller roster and smaller number of upperclassmen this year can’t stop what this team is setting out to accomplish.
“I have really high expectations," Jones said. "I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people. Anytime you say, 'Oh, you graduated five starters,' or, 'Oh, you lost your setter' or things like that, everybody expects it to be a rebuilding year. I definitely don’t see it like that. We’ve got a lot of talent on this team.”
Despite the talent, the real challenge comes in finding out how the fit the pieces together before the season starts.
“They are together on and off the court," Jones explained of how close the team is. "They’re really good friends, but just bringing that together as a team. Our varsity team has 12 kids, so that’s going to be a little bit tough in how do we find who’s playing where when, things like that. So staying together mentally is going to be our biggest challenge.”
Isley echoed her coach's thoughts on how the team plans to come together as a unit.
“I think just to work together and get our groove going," Isley said. "Just be able to mesh together and play as one, as a whole team.”
To accomplish the feat of having a strong mental game, the upperclassmen are leading by example.
“Just be a role model," Isley explained. "Be super positive, help them out, and make sure they don’t get down on themselves and keep their confidence going.”
Jones has already instilled her culture in the program. It’s one that includes the lessons outside of just Xs and Os the players can take away from the game.
“I think sports are a really big part in building confidence, building leadership skills, really good life skills," Jones said. "I gained a ton from playing high school and college sports, and I’m really hoping to pass some of that along to these guys.”
The Hawks open their season on Aug. 26 against Missoula Sentinal and Missoula Big Sky at home.