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BILLINGS — As all coaches do, Kylie Reitz searched for the appropriate motto for this year’s version of her Billings Central volleyball team.

What Reitz and the Rams landed on, as they try to win their third consecutive Class A championship, was this: Become More.

“Everybody has to become more if we’re going to achieve more,” Reitz said after a recent practice. “And, at least so far, they’ve really taken that to heart.”

Olivia Moten-Schell, a 6-foot-1 senior, took that to heart a while ago. She’s already become more. More reliable. More versatile. Just … more.

Reitz, a former Billings Senior standout (then as Kufeld) who went on to play basketball and volleyball at Dartmouth College, remembers the first time she came across Moten-Schell. Six years ago, as Reitz was preparing for her first season coaching the Rams, the middle school Moten-Schell was at club tryouts. Reitz hadn’t seen many seventh-graders who could put down balls the way Moten-Schell could.

When Moten-Schell got to eighth grade, Reitz couldn’t wait to get Moten-Schell on the high school floor. Reitz knew Moten-Schell could step in right away and do big things.

Once Moten-Schell arrived, though, there was the inevitable learning curve.

“She had some growing pains that first year,” Reitz said. “We tried to stay patient, knowing it was going to come. And then, at the state tournament, it did. Really, since then, there’s been no looking back.

“Every year she’s done more for the team, every year she’s risen to the occasion more and more.”

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The Rams took second at state in Moten-Schell’s freshman season. Championship years came in 2017 and last year. Moten-Schell has been a part of 84 wins for the Rams in three seasons. Her kills-per-set stats have gone up each year: 1.71 to 3.15 to 4.42 last year. Blocks per set have gone up, too, from 0.87 her freshman season to 0.93 last year.

What’s really impressed Reitz, what’s really shown that Moten-Schell has become more, is the ability to stay on the court once her rotation reaches the back row. Last year was the first season Moten-Schell was able to do that, and she fit in well, ranking third on the team with 3.17 digs per set and contributing 0.27 aces per set.

Moten-Schell, who is also an all-state basketball player for Central, has improved so much in those defensive areas that Reitz expects the senior will be among the team’s best passers this season and an anchor not only offensively, as she’s always been, but on defense, too.

For her part, Moten-Schell credits Reitz, head basketball coach Jetton Ailes and Ailes’ assistant Austin Hanser for helping develop the footwork required to be a back-row player. Moten-Schell has also worked extensively with her father, Michael, who is also an assistant basketball coach at Central.

The extra work, Moten-Schell said, has benefited her in both sports.

“I’ve changed so much as a player,” she said. “When I was a freshman I didn’t want to play back row. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it or that I’d be good at it.”

Despite being the defending champion last year, the Rams took an underdog approach to fuel their fire. With seven players graduating from last year’s championship team, Moten-Schell said the Rams will resume their underdog persona. But there are enough returning pieces that the Rams could be in the title match for the fourth straight season. Moten-Schell will be key to that.

“When I was a freshman I just worried about am I going to make the team?” said Moten-Schell, whose college plans and college sport are undecided. “I didn’t ever think I would be where I am, honestly.”

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Email Mike Scherting at mike.scherting@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsSchert

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