GREAT FALLS — Great Falls CMR volleyball is a powerhouse. After a runner-up finish last year in the state tournament losing to Helena Capital, this year, they return two first-team All-State selections in seniors Lauren Lindseth and Tennisen Hiller as well bring back more length than ever.
As the Rustlers return to action, the sting of losing last year brought about a work ethic in the off-season that has turned the team into gym rats, something head coach Patrick Hiller remains astounded by.
“I used to always be the first one in the gym, last one out mentality and I do everything to beat these guys in the gym. Every time I say that we’re going to start at 4:30, they’re here at 3:45 already playing,” he said.
His daughter and senior setter, Tennisen Hiller, understands the importance of living and breathing volleyball for their end of the season goals as well.
“I think everybody here knows that we’re going for a state championship this year and it’s going to take more than an average work ethic to get it,” Tennisen said.
Though the team was talented last year, they looked unassuming with the average height around five feet, eight inches. But this season, with added pieces from the junior varsity team, transfers and the return of veteran producers from injuries to go along with growth spurts and overall improvement, the team won’t look as unassuming.
“This year we definitely got up a couple more inches,” Patrick said. "I’m not sure we’ll be that unassuming this year but yeah it definitely helps in our sport.”
“Just every position is much more secure I guess I would say. We have some new DS’s that are coming through. Our middles are stronger. Overall we connect a lot better,” Tennisen expanded.
Although there’s no doubt that a state championship is the end goal for the Rustlers, the team is taking it day by day and not trying to look too far ahead.
We’re trying to do this whole philosophy of moderate improvement, consistently done,” Patrick explained. “We’re not trying to do big things, we’re trying to little things better everyday and it seems to be working so far.”
Great Falls CMR’s first game is this Saturday against Kalispell Glacier where the road to a state championship officially begins.