THREE FORKS — Morgan Allen has known for quite a while that college volleyball was in her future.
A slender all-state middle hitter at Three Forks High School, Allen had caught the eye of plenty of coaches both inside and out of the state of Montana.
Monday, with family and friends in attendance, the 17-year-old made it official in the school’s gymnasium. Allen signed a letter-of-intent to play volleyball at Rocky Mountain College.
That’s not all, however.
A three-sport athlete for the Wolves, Allen will become an two-sport athlete for the Battlin’ Bears. In addition to volleyball, she’ll also compete in track and field in the spring.
“I’m just super excited that I’m not done. Four more years of doing two sports that I love,” said Allen. “I’m just excited to keep getting better.”
The 6-foot Allen is Three Forks’ top offensive weapon and currently leads the team in kills and blocks. She earned all-state honors as a junior and was an all-conference selection as an underclassmen.
Allen’s athletic ability — she also competes in basketball — is what drew the attention of veteran Rocky coach Laurie Kelly, who attended the signing along with assistant coach Yang Yang.
“I watched her play a little volleyball in club season and her length and her athleticism was just appealing to me,” said Kelly. “You have a six-foot kid that really enjoys playing athletics. You can tell that she enjoys what she does.”
Allen attended a camp this past summer and quickly fit in with Rocky’s players. While she also looked at Idaho State University and Montana Tech University in Butte, but the opportunity to play two sports was too good to pass up.
“I knew that I was going to college for volleyball. I’ve known that forever,” said Allen. “So just the fact that I can do track too and not be done with it I think really sold it. Because Tech doesn’t have track.”
Allen should content for playing time as a freshman. Rocky will return just one middle blocker next year and Kelly has now signed a pair of 6-footers — the other is from Lewiston, Idaho.
“They have a really good chance of being on the court next year,” she said. “And it’s tough as a middle, I’m not going to lie. There’s such a blocking scheme at our level compared to high school and the game is so fast.”
Kelly, who is in her 12th season at the helm, has guided Rocky to a 15-6 record thus far. She coached Roundup High School to four straight championships (five overall) in the early 2000’s, and continues to seeks out talent at Montana’s Class B level.
There are currently three players from Red Lodge on the team as well as one each from Conrad and Forsyth.
“I have a lot of Class B kids. They’re just hard-working kids and are ready to move on to the next level,” said Kelly. “But they’re also very good students. I really go after a good student athlete.”
Allen, who is a state champion high jumper in track, excels both on and off the court. Thus, she’s not concerned about juggling two sports in college.
“I can see why a lot of schools would be after her. We’re blessed to have her,” said Kelly. “Mark my words, she’s one of the best athletes that I’ve ever looked at.”
Allen has helped the Wolves win district titles in each of the past three years, and the team is currently unbeaten in league play and 9-2 overall.
“Any time you have a kid from your program decide to continue on and play at a higher level, I think it really validates that you’re doing something right as a coach,” Three Forks coach Shann Mack said. “I’m super excited that she’s going to Rocky. I’m great friends with Laurie Kelly and she runs a great program, so I don’t think she could have picked a better fit for her.”
With signing day now in the rear view mirror, Allen can enjoy the remainder of senior year stress free.
“I’m going to be able to relax and not have to worry about it,” she said. “When track comes around I won’t have to worry about it either.”
That doesn't mean she's not motivated. After finishing as the state runner up in the high jump last year — she won it as a sophomore — Allen is determined to return to the top of the podium.
Allen is also focused on helping the volleyball team reach the state tournament. The Wolves have the misfortune of competing in the toughest division in Class B, and while they've come close over the past couple of years, haven't been able get over the hump.
“That’s our main goal is to get out of divisionals. Because we know once you get out of divisionals it’s going to be a lot easier at state,” Allen said. “Our division is so hard, but we know we can do it this year. Our odds are really for us with four coming out of divisionals. It’s going to be a good year.”