GREAT FALLS — This year, the CMR volleyball program sits atop the Eastern AA conference undefeated at 19-0 with a team filled with talent top to bottom.
“There’s something going on with how good they all do their roles,” head coach Patrick Hiller said. "I believe we have so many girls that could go on other teams and be their stars.”
One of the main reasons why the team has only lost two sets all season has been their presence up front, specifically with junior middle blocker Lexi Thornton, who has grown into a key player for Hiller, sporting the fourth-highest hitting percentage in the state.
“Being more comfortable in that position because last year I didn’t play a whole lot but I was kind of nervous with all the stress but now just settling in to being a middle and knowing that I’m good enough to do it,” Thornton explained.
“She’s a perfect example of someone in our program who has done the work and so the young ones look at her now and they think well I can be Lexi, that’s within my grasp I just have to work as hard as she has,” Hiller added.
However, it doesn’t stop there for the Rustlers, as junior outside hitter Ella Cochran is another piece to the puzzle that has proved to be one of the most vicious hitters in the state, which was most evident against Great Falls High when she recorded 20 kills on 24 swings.
“I don’t know, like every single ball that Tennisen (Hiller) gets, and I’m feeling good about myself, I’m just like give me the ball,” Cochran said.
“She loves to play volleyball but also there’s a little bit of anger that comes out in her. I wouldn’t want anyone to meet her in a back alley, she’s a tough girl,” Hiller confidently said.
As for coach Hille,r he’s enjoying the payoff from all the hard work from the kids he’s had the last five years since he took over as the head coach.
“The younger ones see how the older ones got there from all the hard work, focus and determination and I think it just breeds itself into the program and as a head coach you just get to sit back and enjoy it.”
Great Falls CMR takes on Bozeman High this Thursday, Oct. 14 in Bozeman.