BELGRADE — Belgrade volleyball is having an incredible season. With only two regular-season games left, the Panthers are sitting at 20-2 and are penned as the No. 1 seed in the Central A.
A lot of this success can start with head coach Jade Schmidt, who has led the Panthers to a Class A state championship in 2014 and a runner-up finish last season. But outside hitter Bailey Christensen also deserves credit for this recent success.
“Bailey, statistically speaking, has improved in every category throughout her career,” Schmidt said. “When I first met Bailey, she was 5-(foot)-6, and I was like, ‘I really hope this kid gets taller.’ And I was really thankful to see her grow height-wise, as well as to put in the time and the work that she has and the commitment she has to grow.”
Christensen, who now stands 5-foot-10, has recently captured the Belgrade school records in kills with 1,636 and aces with 244, and the numbers only continue to grow.
But the quiet and humble leader hasn’t let the award-winning season trip her up.
“It’s been fun,” she said. “I haven’t really been worried about the records or anything, just how we do overall as a team, and it’s been really fun to focus on that.”
And what exactly does it take of an athlete to be this good?
“Coming out of my shell, becoming more of a confident person,” Christensen said.
Her coach saw a little more.
“She communicates very well. One of the things that made Bailey so successful, even as a freshman, was her vision and knowledge of the game,” Schmidt said. “And she’s done a really nice job, especially these last two years, being able to speak that to her teammates and help them see the court the way she does.”
Next fall, Christensen will be taking her talents to the University of Providence to play volleyball, and she’s looking to grow into an even better player.
”She understands the work ethic that it takes to continue to progress in this sport, so I think she will take that and be successful at the next level,” Schmidt said.
But Christensen has one goal in mind.
“I just hope to be better, and improve on my skill level, and keep doing what I love and have fun with it,” she said.