Since Bottineau ousted Bishop Ryan volleyball in the Region 6 tournament quarterfinals last year, the Lions' girls basketball team turned in an undefeated season and Ryan softball placed second at the state tournament.
Now, focus returns to volleyball. First-year coach Kaycee Grochow is optimistic some of that good fortune will rub off this fall.
"There's a lot of girls that play basketball that also play volleyball and softball," she said. "They're used to being in high-pressure, high-stakes events."
Said senior outside hitter Anika Rovig: "Playing in any type of state tournament gets you that experience and it's nice to have been in that situation. It definitely makes you grow as an athlete and helps you perform in every sport."
The Lions, which open their season at home against Washburn at 7 p.m. tonight, return all but two players from last year's team, including two Minot Daily News all-area selections in junior middle hitter Gabbie Bohl and junior pin hitter Hannah Stewart.
Rovig, senior setter Maddie Lipp and junior defensive specialist Maddie Wald also bring extensive varsity experience to what Grochow calls a "really athletic, high-energy" roster.
Bishop Ryan senior Macy Christianson spikes a ball during practice Monday at Bishop Ryan High School. The Lions open their season with a home match against Washburn at 7 p.m. tonight.
"We still have most of our starters from last year so that's pretty exciting not having to start over again with new rotations or anything," Rovig said. "Everyone kind of knows their spot and they're all looking to contribute this year."
Even though it's Grochow's first year at the helm, Ryan's team is well acquainted with her. The Rugby native served as an assistant at Ryan the last three years, coaching the junior varsity team.
Senior McKenzie Ebert said that familiarity has allowed for a smooth transition.
Meet the Lions
Seniors - Anika Rovig, Brieann Backes, Macy Christianson, Maddie Lipp, McKenzie Ebert, Shelby Schmidt
Juniors - Gabbie Bohl, Hannah Stewart, Kelly Kasper, Maddie Wald
Sept. - 3, vs. Washburn, 7 p.m.; 7, Hazen Tournament, TBA; 10, at Bottineau, 7 p.m.; Glenburn Tournament, TBA; 17, vs. Velva, 7 p.m.; 19, at Berthold, 7 p.m.; 24, at Kenmare, 7 p.m.; 26, vs. Des Lacs-Burlington, 7 p.m.
Oct. - 1, vs. Our Redeemer's Christian School, 7 p.m.; 4-5, Laker Invite, TBA; 8, vs. Glenburn, 7 p.m.; 10, at Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood, 7 p.m.; 12, Northwest Conference Tournament, TBA; 15, at Surrey, 7 p.m.; 22, vs. Berthold, 7 p.m.; 29, vs. Beulah, 7 p.m.
Nov. - 1, 4 & 5, District 11 Tournament, TBA; 11, 12 & 14, Region 6 Tournament, TBA; 21-23, State Tournament, TBA.
"Kaycee has adjusted for us well and we've also adjusted to her well," she said. "She's been coaching most of us since we were freshmen. We know what she expects of us."
Despite their athletic success in the winter and spring seasons, the Lions have been eager to return to the volleyball court to right the ship after an early exit in the region tournament last year.
"That first region game we're definitely going to win this year," Ebert said. "That's in our expectations."
Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignment. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgrenMDN.