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The University of Montana Western volleyball team returned from the holiday  break with the off-season program ahead of them. The women will be lifting weights, conditioning, some on-court practices and even compete in some tournaments.

Team-Celebration"The off-season is a time we can really focus on skill development and individual player improvements,” said head coach Lisa Griffiths. “The fall is all about team performance but the spring allows us to have a more individualized focus to help players reach their individual goals."

The Bulldogs lost two seniors from last years’ team, Bailey Branson and Charelle Minor, who will be greatly missed. UMW coach Lisa Griffiths has been busy on the recruiting trail, however, and has signed two transfers. The girls, who have already started attending class on UMW’s campus, are Britney Chilcott and Dylan Fowler. Chilcott is a middle blocker and Fowler is a libero. They will be joining some key returners to the Bulldog team that include seniors to be libero Kendra Mendicino, outside hitter Breanne Kelley,  outside hitter/RS Emily Erickson, and setter Paige Latimer.

"It's exciting to get back to work after the break. We added two new girls to the mix and I think they will raise the level in the gym and contribute to the competitive atmosphere we are working to create,” said Coach Griffiths. "We will have good depth and competition at every position and that will challenge all of our players to grow,"

Seniors Emily Erickson, Kendra Mendicino, Breanne KelleySeniors Emily Erickson, Kendra Mendicino, Breanne KelleyThe ladies will spend three days a week in the weight room and will do conditioning drills the other two days. They will follow this schedule into March, until spring break. The schedule intensifies the five weeks prior to the student-athletes spring break when they will add individual training in their position groups in addition to the lifting and conditioning. Following spring break the ladies will go back to team practices and continue with weights three days a week. They will compete in some spring tournaments that are in the area and held on Saturdays as well.

"I am excited about the group of players we have in the gym and cannot wait to add our incoming freshmen,” said Griffiths. “The girls are motivated to achieve and are willing to put in the work to reach their goals."

In addition to the semester additions, the Bulldogs have signed three high school athletes who will join them in August. They include Kyla Paulsen, Tessa Miller and Brianna DeCock.