Baily Permann was terrified.
She was a quiet freshman on Century's varsity squad — one that was coming off state championship No. 3 in a row — and, two years earlier, was cut from her seventh-grade team.
Permann was aware of Century's championship-or-bust expectations. She understood her passionate coach wouldn't give her slack. She felt the heavy workload placed upon her as a middle blocker. She had to control her nerves in the face of win-or-go-home. She had barely began her volleyball career and already had lofty expectations aggressively placed upon her.
Only the strongest can play for the best.
Only the best are remembered.
The scared, inexperienced, lanky freshman mastered a quiet, resilient reliability and helped the Diamondbacks win three more state titles. She committed to play Division I volleyball as a junior and starred as Century's leader on offense and defense as a senior.
Permann took the brunt of her coach's insatiable drive for perfection. She grew from a quiet freshman into a quiet senior, from cast off to irreplaceable, to Idaho State Journal All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year. She will be honored May 30 at the ISJ Sports Stars event at the Stephens Performing Arts Center.
“You couldn't really shake Baily,” Century coach Pauline Thiros said. “She just stayed the course.”
Thiros began coaching Permann as an eighth grader. It didn't take long for her to realize Permann's immense potential, and she drilled Permann to a point that would have broken other teenage athletes.
“I've probably been as relentless on Baily as any player I've ever coached,” Thiros said. “I've probably asked more of her than any player I've coached in a long time, and never (got) one complaint out of that kid.”
Permann was second on her team in blocks as a freshman and led the squad every other year. In 2016, Permann netted team highs in kills (470), kills per set (3.9), kill percentage (51.7), service aces (80), ace percentage (19.9) and blocks (162). She filled a void left by injured outside hitter Zoe Thiros and was Century's go-to scorer while also being relied upon to block opponents' shots at the net.
Of the 137 Idaho players throughout all six classifications with stats on maxpreps.com this season, Permann ranks first in kills, fourth in kill percentage, first in kills per set, second in service aces and first in blocks.
But Permann was also second in attacking errors. Though the figure is more a testament to her workload than a function of her talent, her coach would want her to know that.
“I wouldn't be here without my coach,” Permann said. “She made me great.”
Century's streak of six consecutive 4A state titles ended on the first day of the 2016 state tournament — a feeling of failure Permann hadn't felt in her prep career. The D-backs' 3-1 loss to Bishop Kelly marked the end of a run of immortality that stretched over a half decade and included three graduating classes that never finished anywhere but first in their four-year high school careers.
For Permann, it unceremoniously ended a prep career that Thiros says ranks as one of the greatest in Century High School and Idaho history.
“There's no doubt in my mind she's an all-time leading blocker,” Thiros said. “She is the best we've ever had.”
Permann enrolled a semester early at the University of Montana, where she verbally committed the summer before her junior year and signed in November 2016 despite an unforeseen coaching change. Her career has come full circle — scared freshman to senior leader and back.
“It's been kind of stressful, just getting used to it and getting to know the team and meeting new people,” Permann said. “It's just kind of scary. I like it a lot, though.”
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
“She just seemed to be more tenacious than you think she would be. Pretty laid-back and chill kid, and she gets on the court and is aggressive and just a go-getter.” — Malad coach Camie Tripp.
"What's exciting about Baily is that she's become so dominant in so short a time since we started watching and recruiting her. The rate at which she's improving is very exciting. She's touching over 10 feet, so she's blocking and hitting high. She has the potential to be a top threat for us right away." — Montana head coach Allison Lawrence.
“Baily had a way, over four years when we were in tight spots, state tournament time, she just always seemed to come up with big blocks or big scores right at the perfect time. She just was a player you could just really quietly depend upon to always get the job done.” — Century coach Pauline Thiros.