BILLINGS — Billings West High’s volleyball girls have been crushing it this season inside their Golden Dome. In fact, they’ve been crushing it all over Montana. And with this year's Class AA state volleyball tournament tipping off this week, why stop now?
During a recent practice, players told MTN Sports they condition hard at least once per day. On this day, they're individually pushing boards wrapped in cloth the length of the court and back. Where does this particular drill rank in line with favorites?
“That’s definitely low on a lot of people’s list,” said Bears right-side hitter Sadie Meier, still catching her breath.
Libero Austin Long did her best to be equally as diplomatic.
“Probably not last (on the list), but close to last," she said with a smile. "Probably the worst thing we could do. ... OK, they’re last, they’re last. We just do them a lot. They’re last.”
Yet the Bears grind through this drill much like grinding up this year’s opponents. They’re storming into state with a spotless record (27-0 overall, 14-0 Eastern AA) and eager for another unparalleled volleyball atmosphere at the state tourney in Bozeman.
“The energy is high, it’s crazy," said Meier. "It’s so nice to be in that arena. The lights are bright.”
“Honestly, it’s insane. It’s crazy," Long said. "There’s just so much going on at one time, like four courts. There’s always a game going, always something to be watching, and the energy is crazy.”
Bears second-year head coach Kelly Grossman has seen her share.
“You’re constantly hearing screams of joy and cries of sorrow, and we’ve been there," Grossman said. "We’ve been on both sides of that.”
West fell to Billings Senior in last year's championship and to Great Falls CMR during the 2021 title match.
“We don’t want to come in second for a third year in a row,” Meier said.
The Bears open this week's tournament Thursday at 2 p.m. against Helena Capital (Class AA pairings). And after coming within an eyelash of winning it all the past two seasons, they march into this week's marquee event with a fresh team motto.
"EAT. It stands for effort, attitude and toughness," explained Long. "So, a little bit of humor mixed in because we’re always talking about, 'Let’s eat.'”
While we’re at the table, they also admit to enjoying a favorite team dinner.
“Addie Allen’s house is kind of popular," Grossman said. "We have crepes there every year. Her mom makes crepes for us.”
“We have breakfasts for dinner,” Meier said.
Taking care of business week after week, the Bears have surely worked up an appetite.
And though players may not love mopping up the court during practice drills, considering what they’ve done this season, don’t be surprised if they’re still mopping up in Saturday’s championship round.