(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)
MISSOULA -- Nearly three years into her tenure as head coach, Allison Lawrence finally feels like she has built a foundation.
So much of her first two seasons has been about stability and reshaping a culture. Now, she and her staff can work to build the pieces that will lead to success both on and off the court, and a big part of that came on Wednesday.
A year after bringing in six freshmen, the Grizzlies again will welcome a large class, with another half-dozen players announcing their commitments to Montana on Wednesday, the first day of the national signing period.
In total, Montana will bring in Carly Anderson (setter from Mississauga, Ontario), Sarah Ashley (outside hitter from Helena), Madi Chuhlantseff (middle blocker from Salem, Ore.), Sophia Meyers (outside hitter from Maple Valley, Wash.), Ellie Scherffius (middle blocker from Eagle River, Alaska), and Kellie Van Kirk (outside hitter from Bozeman).
"Our staff is really thrilled with the combined potential of this group," Lawrence said. "When we were recruiting these last two classes, we formed relationships so well and so early that we were able to take a lot of time with both of the classes to find people that are going to make this place great, in whatever role they play over the next four years."
The players are diverse, hailing from four states and one Canadian province, and fill a variety of positions. The main thing that bonds them together is their desire to be great.
"The thing that stood out is the internal drive that each of these athletes have," Lawrence said. "They have a motor and a relentless pursuit of success at a higher level than we've had."
The other unique link is the athletic genes in their families. All six have direct family members who were collegiate athletes, including four fathers, three mothers and three siblings.
The signing class was Lawrence's third since being elevated to head coach after seven seasons as an assistant with the Griz. Between the last two classes, Montana could nearly fill an entire roster, welcoming in 12 new players. It will make for another young team in 2020, but one that Lawrence finally feels gives the Grizzlies the pieces to build momentum with.
With the six new additions, Montana will have zero seniors and just one junior on its roster in 2020.
"I look at this year's big class, in combination with last year's, as a new era to this program," Lawrence said. "We believe these six will seamlessly fit in with last year's signing class. We believe that the players we will have on our team next year can get Montana on track to where we want to get to. These last few classes are the core that will move us through the next several years."