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BILLINGS – This time, she’s ready.

Mentally, emotionally and physically. 

After a two-year absence and much discussion with her family, former Huntley Project standout Cady Siemion is resuming her college volleyball career at Montana Western.

Now a more mature 22 — “I’m old,” she joked — Siemion is ready to finish what she started in Dillon back in the fall of 2015.

“Oh, my gosh, I’m so excited to play again,” said Siemion. “Excited to be going back and being a college athlete again.”

Following a stellar career at Huntley Project, Siemion played two seasons for Montana Western. She played in 27 matches as a freshman and finished with 136 kills, including a career-high 22 in a match against St. Francis. She followed with 167 kills in 26 matches as a sophomore.

But she was there primarily for volleyball — “I was young and immature,” she said — and ongoing problems with her feet and her back left her struggling about continuing to play.

“I’ve always had problems with my feet,” explained Siemion, who had surgery on both feet in sixth grade. “And that affected my back. I really enjoyed the volleyball at Western and made some great friends. But I was always injured.”

After many restless nights, she decided to leave Western following her second season.

“It was the hardest decision of my life,” she recalled. “I cried for three days. Volleyball was so much of my life. Volleyball defined me as a person.”

Siemion attended school at Montana State Billings in the spring of 2017 and the hard-hitting 5-foot-10 outside hitter planned to play for the Yellowjackets.

“But I had so many problems with my back,” she said. Siemion eventually quit school altogether.

She worked as a paraprofessional for the Shepherd and Huntley Project school districts and played some intramural coed volleyball.

When new Bulldogs’ coach Katie Lovett put together an alumni match this past spring, Siemion emailed her, asking to play.

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Following the match, then UMW assistant coach Dylan Fowler told Siemion that Lovett was interested in having the former player return and if she had any remaining eligibility.

“In my head, that was unrealistic,” said Siemion.

After many discussions with her mother, Tracy, it was her sister Stormy who gave her the final nudge to return to the court.

“She said, ‘You need to call,’ “ said her younger sister.

Three weeks after the initial interest, Siemon reached out to Lovett.

But this time it’s more than just about volleyball.

“I know I have to get a college degree to live the way I want in the future,” said Siemion, who plans on majoring in education and special education. “I know school will be stressful. I took some summer classes to get ready.

“I plan on getting more out of college.”

Siemion said her back "is doing a lot better" and she’s been working out three to four days a week to get ready. She played both 6-on-6 volleyball with her sister and coed volleyball at the Big Sky State Games in July.

“Saturday and Sunday were long days. I was hurting,” Siemion added with a laugh.

The Bulldogs begin practice on Thursday and host Northwest University of Washington in their season opener on Aug. 21.

And while her outlook has changed somewhat, Siemion’s competitive fire has not.

“I want to be great,” she said firmly. “I played for some really great teams and I want to make Western a great volleyball team. I want that feeling again.”

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Email Joe Kusek at joe.kusek@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJoe

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