BILLINGS — It’s been four years since Billings Senior played for the Montana Class AA volleyball state championship, seven since they’ve won one.
Those don’t seem like droughts, but the Broncs are used to winning - a lot. They played in the title match six of seven years between 2011 and 2017. Those are the kinds of expectations a basically brand new crop of players are stepping into this year.
“We are going to be pretty young," admitted head coach Karen Switzer. "We’ll have five or six starters that will be new to six rotations.”
It’s the cleanest slate Switzer has worked with as she heads into her third season in charge. Some will see it as inexperience, but this group chooses a different word - reinvigoration.
“I’m excited honestly," said outside hitter Kara Pospisil. "There’s a lot of good people coming up. I feel like it’s really exciting.”
“We have such a good group of kids that no matter what we end up with, they’ll work hard to be the best group they can be." Switzer echoed.
That’s because basically everyone on the team is still fighting for playing time.
“One of our core values is gratitude, and I tell my kids that you should be grateful every opportunity you get to show me what you can do, and I tell them nothing is permanent," Switzer said. "I want them to come in the next day after a day that I say, ‘You’ve been taken out of this role,’ and show me that I made the wrong choice. That’s what I want.”
Maybe the biggest reason for optimism though is the scheduled return to normalcy. No sport was affected more by COVID-19 last year than volleyball, with mostly empty gyms and a significantly smaller schedule.
“It’ll be nice being able to have a gym full of people," Pospisil said, "and having people supporting us, not having all those things to worry about.”
“It’s exciting to think that we’ll get a full schedule this year, and just the ability to have fans," Switzer added.
Ones that will hopefully like the new-look Broncs.
Senior starts its season with a bang, as they host three-time defending AA champion Helena Capital on Saturday, Aug. 28.