BILLINGS – Some thought it was a mistake when Billings Senior head coach Sue Dvorak sent scores from the Broncs’ opening two matches this season — losses of 3-0 and 3-1 in Helena.
Was that somewhat of a brow-raiser for the traditionally rich Broncs?
“It was,” said Dvorak. “It was like, ‘We have work to do.'”
Players thought the same.
“Wow, they came to play,” Kola Bad Bear recalled thinking. “We’ve got to pick it up, and we have to go back and work on other things.”
Two weeks later, Senior is back where most expected – on top after winning the Great Falls Invite.
“If we’re being honest, we’re just a completely different team than we were two weeks ago, and I think we’ve just bonded and become a team,” said libero Haddy Slade.
“I mean, it was our first time ever together,” teammate Tavy Findon said. “We just weren’t as nervous, and I feel like we also were like, ‘Guys, we’re better than this. Let’s go.'”
The Broncs swept both Helena High and Helena Capital on their way to the Great Falls title and are now 13-3 after winning their conference opener Tuesday night.
“It brings the confidence way, way up,” Dvorak said. “The girls decided to come back and work really, really hard the next two weeks, and obviously you can see the change.”
“And I think it gave us a feel for a different level of play,” said Bad Bear.
Bad Bear is the only returning starter from last year’s state runner-up squad, but even she’s adjusting to a new role.
“It’s definitely a big change for me,” she admitted. “Because instead of saying, ‘Ask my sister, or ask Raegan,’ they’ll come and ask me. It’s harder, but I’m getting into the role and fitting into it. It’s definitely making me mature more, for sure.”
The Broncs know they’ll go as far as the hard-hitting Bad Bear can take them – that is, as long as the two new setters, Jensen Keller and Tavy Findon, can feed her and Senior’s other hitters the ball.
“They just have picked it up so fast, and it’s so important that they do so because the game rotates around them,” Slade said. “It revolves around the setters.”
“You really have to be the loudest, because you are the leader and you have to tell everybody what to do,” Findon said. “I’m new and I’m a little quiet, so I’m like, ‘Ok, guys, let’s go.’ But sometimes I’m like, ‘LET’S GO!'”
It’s a work in progress that’s headed in the right direction.