GREAT FALLS — Last season was a successful one for the the Great Falls CMR volleyball team as it ran a perfect 10-0 conference record, went 23-3 overall and took third at state. But with that success, expectations are now a little higher around Rustler country.
"That was just like the best season we've had. It was just crazy to be a part of," senior Allison Will said. "It'll be weird to lose or see how the season goes, but it's fun."
CMR returns mostly everyone from that team, but one big piece is missing. Allie Olsen, a first-team all-state selection as a senior last year, now plays in the Pac-12 Conference for the University of Utah. Her absence means head coach Patrick Hiller will try a few new things on the court this year.
"We're going to be running a lot of different systems, some stacking and crosses that we've never been able to run before," he said. "The IQ of the team is as high as ever, and right now our setter is having a blast with it because she's literally designing different offenses, without even telling the coaching staff at times, and we just kind of smile at each other and say, 'Hey, we haven't seen that one before.'"
Hiller said normally it's tough when someone like Olsen leaves the program, but it’s hard to complain with the amount of talent and experience he has coming back, including all-staters Lauren Lindseth and Tennisen Hiller, his daughter.
"We have a lot of leadership that's in the program that has been there, done that for the last two years, going to state," he said. "And so I think some seasons I'd be a lot more nervous than I may be in this right now. But the fact that we have so much experience coming back with girls that know how to win, I think we won 23 matches last year, I don't think you could ask for much better situation."
CMR opens play at home against Billings Senior in Sept. 12, although attendance will be limited.