BOZEMAN — It’s been an up-and-down season for the Bozeman Gallatin volleyball team, which is made up of juniors and younger, but the Raptors are using that valuable experience to be even better going into next year.
“We didn’t expect much not having many seniors, but we’re doing really well proving ourselves as Gallatin High,” said junior Ryann Eddins.
“This group of girls loves volleyball, they love playing together, they’re 100 percent bought into the program and the philosophy," said Gallatin head coach Ashley Obstar. "We’re all just having so much fun.”
For such a young squad, the girls getting valuable experience playing without any seniors will be instrumental for next year. Most players wouldn't be on varsity if the new school didn't open and they were still playing for Bozeman High.
“It’s so valuable for everyone to be getting these reps with each other, gain confidence," Obstar said.
“I think it means like a lot," said junior Keaton Lynn. "We’re just building a program from the bottom. I feel like we’re doing an excellent job at building every level of the player, which is really nice, because if we were to stay in Bozeman not all of us would get as much playing time. We wouldn’t develop much individually, so I think it’s really nice.”
Despite their below-.500 record, the team didn’t expect to win any games, and the success the Raptors have had has been because they’ve played smart volleyball while building the foundation for the future.
“We really focused on building our identity with smart shots and aggressive serves and low errors, and that has really been brought together and shown throughout the season,” Eddins said.
“It has been everything and more than I had ever pictured as far as ever coming over here," said Obstar, who previously was the head coach for Bozeman High. "A lot of coaches came over here to start something new and to build a program from the ground up, because how often do you get to do that? We were really expecting not to win any games but just to work hard and dig deep. That’s kind of our saying right now, because we know we need to dig deep in order to lay the foundation.”
Most of all for Obstar, she just wants the girls to love volleyball, because if they love the sport that will motivate them even more.
"Hard work, discipline and loving the game of volleyball, that’s why I think this group is so bought in, because they’re all of those things," Obstar said. "They come to practice every day willing to work hard, wanting to improve from the previous match or previous practice. But I also know that loving the game of volleyball is going to motivate someone even more than wins and anything that I can do as a coach.”
As for next year, the players can’t wait to see how much they will be improved.
“I think we’re going to be really good," Lynn said. "I think we’re going to take a run at state -- I think we will.”
The Raptors still have regular-season games this year against Bozeman High on Tuesday and Thursday and Billings Skyview on Friday.