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Elsa Godwin

Sentinel outside hitter Elsa Godwin has committed to play volleyball for the Montana Grizzlies.

TOMMY MARTINO, Missoulian

One of Montana’s best prep volleyball players will be staying close to home when she continues into her college career.

But first, she has a state title to defend.

Missoula Sentinel junior Elsa Godwin verbally committed in March to play volleyball at the University of Montana under new head coach Allison Lawrence. Montana volleyball’s reigning Gatorade Player of the Year already has a good feel for the program and staff, though.

Lawrence was actually Godwin’s very first coach at the Montana Volleyball Academy. It’s part of what drew her to the program.

“She was the one who kind of introduced me to volleyball and now she’s the head coach,” Godwin said Tuesday. “I love how positive (Lawrence) is and she’s super encouraging and is always giving feedback and that’s something I love in a coach.”

Godwin helped lead the Spartans to an undefeated 26-0 season and a State AA championship last fall. The 5-foot-10 outside hitter will return for her senior season at Sentinel with a team poised for another run.

Then it’s on to her hometown college, one in need of impact players.

The Griz finished 5-21 overall a season ago and 2-14 in the Big Sky Conference. They were last in hitting percentage, scoring on just .118 of their kill attempts.

“…I know that (the program has) kind of had some ups and downs the past few years and I’m just hoping my personality and whatever I can contribute to the team can help us all grow closer and grow as a program,” said Godwin, who expects to redshirt her freshman year at Montana.

After committing, Godwin’s first call came to her current coach, Erin Keffeler.

“I am super happy that she’s going to stay local. I think the Griz are in a building process anyway and I just know how much Elsa can help them and we get to watch her – that’s the best part for sure,” Sentinel’s coach said. “She has so many fans locally that she’ll have such a good crowd coming to support her, plus I’m a huge Griz fan,” Keffeler added, who also played volleyball at UM.

Godwin had 287 kills, 192 digs and 40 service aces while posting a kill percentage of .457 during her junior year. A two-time first-team all-state selection, she racked up 49 kills and 54 digs in the Spartans’ four-match state tournament run to complete their perfect season.

“Your best athletes need to play on the outside, and she has such a great all-around game,” coach Keffeler said. “She’s a good teammate, she’s humble, she listens, she’s smart, she has great court IQ. There’s so many things that make her valuable.”

Godwin also carried a 4.0 GPA through the volleyball season, but said she is still deciding her major.

With her senior year of high school still to come, she has plenty of time to decide.

And even more time to impress on the volleyball court.

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