HELENA — The history of the Helena High and Helena Capital crosstown rivalry is well-documented with the two schools battling out for decades prior, and likely decades to come. The scores, the highlights are obviously a part of what makes this rivalry what it is, what does this rivalry mean to these players as the two volleyball teams get set to duke it out on Saturday?
“It's pretty important, just because everybody knows what's going on. And just talking to everybody, it's a small town, and everybody knows who wins," said Helena Capital's Racheal Stacey. "It's just pretty cool to say that we can come out with a win.”
“For that one day, it's like the biggest hype around town. Like, everyone is focused on it," said Helena High's Alex Bullock. "You have friends from Capital being like, 'Oh, you're gonna lose,' and then other girls are like, 'Oh, I think we'll win,' and it's just really fun.”
For some, the Helena crosstown rivalry is something that comes naturally. Kayla Almquist is a junior for the Bruins. Almquist's father, Guy, has been the head boys basketball coach at Capital for over two decades. Though she’s been on the sideline or in the bleachers for many crosstown match-ups, being able to finally play amid sea of spectators is something she’ll never forget.
“It was just so exhilarating. Like, you'd have that diving play and it was like the whole gym was cheering for you," said Almquist. "It's definitely just so loud, but just there's so much going on, you can't really focus on the noise.”
The Bengals were the team to come away with the win in round one of this year’s edition of the rivalry, but regardless of a win or a loss, players for both teams were happy to have the standard affair associated with a crosstown match.
“It's just really exciting to have all the people and all the fans in the stands, and it was really fun to be able to hear everyone again," said Helena High's Liz Heuiser. "We didn't really get much of any crowd last year. So, it was really exciting to have that again.”
"Everybody was so excited for crosstown again because we didn't get a year of it. So, just seeing everybody back in the gym was really cool to see," said Stacey.
Though the Bengals took round one, the Bruins are looking forward to having round two on their court.
“We're ready for like revenge on them. And we know we've been playing so much better," said Almquist. "I'm most excited to prove that we can be that team that can beat them.”
The Bruins and the Bengals tip off their second crosstown volleyball match of the season at Helena Capital on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.