(Editor's note: Montana State press release)
Returning to a traditional routine is exactly what was needed. And, for the Montana State volleyball team, the return to some normalcy is mentally refreshing as the Bobcats opened fall drills on Monday.
“The last year, two years, has taken a toll on everybody,” said MSU fifth-year head coach Daniel Jones. “Getting back in Shroyer (Gym), it almost felt like COVID never happened. Obviously, it did happen, and we’re still dealing with some things with COVID, but to be able to get back in the gym, and practice with no restrictions feels fantastic.”
Jones welcomed 17 players to Shroyer Gym on Monday morning, including 12 returning letter winners, five starters, libero Libby Christensen, and five newcomers. Seniors Allie Lynch, Hannah Scott, Emma West, and Christensen will be asked to guide a squad that went 10-5 overall and 10-4 in Big Sky Conference action, last spring.
“We’ve got a really nice mix of veteran experience and youthful enthusiasm,” Jones said. “It’s a potent mix. Our four returning seniors are hungry to do what hasn’t been done here in terms of winning a championship. There is a drive that’s coming from them.
“As a head coach, it’s very comforting knowing that you have that level of experience, and knowledge, and then having that fire in their belly is pretty darn cool,” Jones added.
MSU returns First-Team All-Big Sky performers in sophomores Kira Thomsen and Emma Pence. Scott, and Ennis product Jourdain Klein bolster the starting rotation as second-team all-league picks three months ago.
The five newcomers include Audrey Hofer, who was an Under Armour First-Team All-American, after leading Helena Capital to it third consecutive title, last season. She will be joined by Jordan Radick (Bozeman), Maci Abshier (Belleview, Fla.), Courtney Wisneski (Greenwood Village, Colo.), and Courtney Weatherby (Kuna, Idaho).
“Communication is key,” Jones said. “Communicating is one of those things we can control, and I thought they did a great job on the first day stepping up every time we challenged them.”
Montana State will alternate two-a-day practices with one practice block leading up to its exhibition match against TCU in Shroyer Gym on August 19.
“We’ve got 17 healthy bodies and we’ve got depth,” Jones commented. “In past years, we have had the talent, but just lacked the depth. The level of competition in our gym is going to be reflective of the competition we’re going to see elsewhere. We want our practice gym to be as tough as can be, and I think that will help accelerate our growth curve and prepare us for what’s coming up.”
Montana State will open its regular season at the Boise State Tournament, Aug. 27-28.