BILLINGS — It’s not readily apparent, the way Raegan Steiner carries herself.
Quiet. Pleasant. An introspective do-gooder and well-wisher, whose empathy has seen her receive several citizenship awards and prompts cards from her teachers acknowledging her kindness toward others.
But when the 6-footer unleashes what usually turns out to be another point for the Billings Senior volleyball team, well, look out. That’s when Steiner’s emotions can come out.
“When Raegan gets excited she almost falls to the ground,” Courtney Bad Bear, one of Senior’s setters and a classmate of Steiner’s, said as a smile cracks her face. “But she plays it off really well. So we always have those inside jokes about how I’m the only one who notices those little things.”
Those little stumbles may escape the casual observer, but aside from that, it’s hard not to notice Steiner. Her height makes her intimidating enough, but the power she packs in her left arm can send balls through and around just about any block, and send many a back row player reeling.
She’s the third of what has been a stream of Steiner siblings through the Broncs program, with yet a fourth, Karli, a sophomore, on the team. Raegan has followed Kiahna (who played at Utah Valley University) and Aubrie (who just wrapped her second season at Salt Lake Community College), both of whom had more-than-impactful careers at Senior.
It turns out Raegan is having the biggest impact, at least by the numbers. Heading into this weekend’s state volleyball tournament, she needs 19 more kills to become the fourth player in Broncs history to reach 1,000 for her career. She's also No. 2 in school history in career attack efficiency.
Steiner has already reached one milestone. After a 24-kill night earlier this season against Billings West, she moved into the top five on the school’s all-time list, sending a very important person in her life out of that coveted spot: Older sister Kiahna.
“I texted her and said, ‘I just knocked you out of the top 5!’ ” said Raegan, who has since moved into fourth on the list. “But she was so happy for me.”
There was more good news to come. Just last week Raegan became the first Montana player to be chosen to the first team of the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America squad, and she’s given an oral commitment to play at Idaho State, where her mother, Chantelle, also played.
In case we’re painting a perfect picture, Chantelle said Raegan herself can burst that bubble. Seems whatever her mood, sunny or stormy (mostly sunny), she dominates the Steiner home. Then there’s a streak of stubbornness.
While it can manifest itself in trivial matters – Let Karli ride shotgun when dad Nathan is driving? No way! – that stubbornness has likely done more good than harm for the Steiner sisters.
“All four daughters have spent a ridiculous number of hours in the back yard, hitting a volleyball around,” said Chantelle, an NJCAA All-American at Ricks College before playing at Idaho State. “There were times that we had to beg them to stop for dinner or if we had other commitments to be at.”
That she is the family’s lone left-hander, and the most blonde with the bluest eyes, made Raegan feel somewhat the outsider, she said. But as success in volleyball came, the need to prove something to herself lessened. She’s not as stubborn as she once was and she tries not to let a bad day at school or practice permeate the home.
Steiner credits first-year coach Sue Dvorak, who instituted a “two-second rule,” upon her taking over the program for longtime coach Jeff Carroll, for more evenness.
“We get two seconds to think about an error we make and we have to move on,” Steiner said, explaining the rule. “So I kind of take that into my whole life now. Not necessarily two seconds with big things, but it definitely helps me get over things. Like, ‘I know this is happened but I can’t make everyone else mad about it.’ ”
Steiner saw some playing time at state as a freshman in 2014, the last time Senior won a Class AA championship. With a 29-0 record this season, the Broncs are eager for a chance to return to the summit after losing to Missoula Sentinel in last year’s final.
Bad Bear, for one, thinks Steiner is primed for a big weekend.
“We lost something that we really wanted last year,” Bad Bear said. “Where a lot of us play another sport, this is Raegan’s passion and her only sport, and I’d really like to win a state championship for her.”
Rest assured, Steiner and the Broncs would spend more than two seconds thinking about that.