By: Shayna Lloyd – September 12, 2016
After enjoying three conference championships in a row, the Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears volleyball team has graduated the majority of the key contributors to their past success. This year brings the youngest volleyball team RMC has had in years, with only three varsity returners.
One of these returners is defensive specialist Aubyn Swigart, the Bears’ lone senior. She weighed in on the new team and their first tournament in La Mirada, Calif., where the team went 0-4.
“Everything is different this year because we’ve had the same returning players and, pretty much, starters since I was a freshman,” said Swigart, after returning from the disappointing season opener. “We only have three girls who have had any varsity playing time, so we all need to work together to find out what clicks and what doesn’t. We’re all working toward that team connection.” Swigart saw a team connection in the past due to the older players who she looked up to, “We had an amazing setter [Tori Bertsch] for four years. We had amazing blockers and hitters who would get 20 kills a game.”
Swigart then explained that because it is a brand new volleyball team, everyone needs to step up into leadership roles. She praised teammates and fellow returners Tess Hellerud and Hailey Copinga for doing so.
“Tess has been helpful because she knows the game so well. Hailey has been doing a good job setting and stepping up as a leader. We have to keep up the positive energy and find the heart and drive that our previous teams have had. We have all the potential in the world,” said Swigart.
Hailey Copinga shared many of the same sentiments.
“It’s frustrating to lose,” Copinga admitted, “but at the same time we were pretty positive after the games [in California]. We’re all excited to see where we go from here.”
Copinga then pointed out that there were freshmen and sophomores who couldn’t make it to the first tournament who she believed could “step up” and “bring positive energy to the court.”
“The freshmen – they’re a good group of girls. It’s exciting. They’re all learning so fast,” said Copinga.
As far as positive energy goes, Copinga herself was optimistic about the future of the team, saying, “We have a lot of energy. There’s a lot of new people, but we’re figuring it out. I really think our team is going to grow together and we’re going to build a good team for the next few years.”
At the time of publication the team’s record was 3-9. The Bears’ next home game is versus cross-town rival MSU Billings, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. in the Fortin Center.