HELENA -- It’s not every day that you come across twins. But finding two that stand 6 feet tall and dominate on the volleyball court, is even rarer.
But that’s exactly what the Helena Capital Bruins have in twins sisters Paige and Dani Bartsch.
While Paige and Dani are twins by birth, they aren’t identical and it doesn’t take long to figure out the difference between the two with Paige standing 6-foot-4 and her sister, Dani, checking in at 6-foot-1.
Like most twins, the two are nearly inseparable. But what unites them more than anything is the sports they play together.
“We have played volleyball together,” Dani Bartsch said. “But we also do track and basketball together too. We have always played sports. Our parents made sure that we have always been active and it’s a very big priority in our life.”
Both Paige and Dani have been key contributors for the Capital volleyball team at a young age, but Paige especially quickly grew into a superstar, both literally and figuratively.
The old adage that you can’t teach height certainly applies to Bartsch. But she has a lot more to offer than elite size, which she says she inherited from her parents, who were each college athletes at the University of Montana. Her mom played volleyball; her dad football.
“We are just naturally competitive,” Paige Bartsch said. "It helps us to be goal-driven.”
One goal was crossed off the list last season when Paige and Dani helped Helena Capital defeat Bozeman in five sets for the Class AA state championship.
“It was awesome,” Paige Bartsch said. “We worked really hard and that was something we wanted and we were focused on and it was just so fun at the end to be able to share that together.”
“It was awesome,” she said. “Paige was incredible. Then she got hurt in the championship game and was able to come back. I was really proud of her and just having all our family there to support us was amazing. I loved it.”
It’s a feeling that the Bartsch twins and the team as a whole are hoping to replicate this November. The team is 2-0 so far but the first big test comes Tuesday night as Bozeman travels to Capital for a state championship-rematch.
“We are really motivated,” Paige Bartsch said. “That’s our goal to get a two-peat. We have really been trying to push each other and I think we are working even harder than we were last year. We know we can achieve that goal and now we are just focused more on the little things that will really help us improve.”
The idea of Paige Bartsch improving has to be a scary thought for opposing teams, as the Boise State commit is already a force in the middle and around the net.
“I love watching her hit against other teams,” Dani said of Paige. “You can see their face sometimes, saying ‘oh my gosh.’ She’s a phenomenal blocker and Boise (State) is lucky to have her.”
Paige’s college path is already laid out. For Dani though, it’s far from decided.
She is developing into one of the top hitters in the state but the junior also excels in basketball, which will make choosing what to do after high school even more difficult.
After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Dani picked up the sport.
“She didn’t like it for a long time,” Paige Bartsch said. “But then I was at a tournament and the other team was short a player. She played and she loved it, so she decided to go out the next season.”
Now, Dani Bartsch is a multi-sport standout and one that has the chance to play at the next level in more than just volleyball.
“I have some offers,” Dani said. “But I haven’t made a decision yet. I haven’t decided what I want to play. Hopefully, it will come to me some morning.”
While Paige and Dani are a devastating duo on the court, as most twins can relate to, they aren’t always the best of friends off of it.
“We fight a lot,” Dani quipped. “Mostly about clothes, who cleans what and then bathroom space. We have gotten along better as we have grown up. We used to fight all the time. Our parents had to separate us a lot.”
Yet, as the two grow older and inevitably follow different paths in life, they will likely find themselves truly apart from each other for the first time.
“It will be a big adjustment,” Paige Bartsch said. “We have basically been with each other 24/7 for 16 years. So it will be a big change but I think it will be good.”
“It will be weird not having her on my team after so long,” Dani added. “But I think it will also be good. It will feel like a short separation even if it's long.”
That change is two years away but for the rest of Class AA volleyball, it can’t come soon enough and until then, opposing teams will have to deal with the united front that is the Bartsch twins.