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Red Team outlasts Blue Team in four sets in third Montana All-Star Volleyball Classic

Midland Roundtable Montana All-Star Volleyball Classic
Posted at 5:46 PM, Jun 15, 2024

BILLINGS — Josie Blazina can't wait to be on the same side of the net as Sydney Pierce when the two join the University of Montana volleyball program in the fall.

But Belgrade's Blazina and Billings West's Pierce were combatants one last time Saturday in the Midland Roundtable's third annual Montana All-Star Volleyball Classic at the Lockwood High School Gym.

PHOTOS: 2024 MIDLAND ROUNDTABLE MONTANA ALL-STAR VOLLEYBALL CLASSIC

Try as they did, Blazina and the Blue Team couldn't contain Pierce and her teammates, as the Red Team came away with a 25-16, 23-25, 27-25, 25-23 victory. The 6-foot-4 Pierce established herself at the net, collecting a match-high 22 kills to lead the way.

"When Sydney Pierce is front row, if there's not two people up on her there's not much you can do. They really used her to their advantage," Blazina said. "Still, it was super close, neck and neck, and the momentum was going back and forth."

The Red Team jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first set and didn't waver. A service ace from Huntley Project's Kirra Ban, a tip by West's Addie Allen and a kill by Pierce had the Red leading 21-14.

A pair of points by Bozeman Gallatin's Karsen Breeding put away the opening set for the Red squad.

"I think we really came together in the heat of the moment," said Breeding, who will play college volleyball at Colorado Mesa. "Everyone was staying really competitive and everything was clicking, especially in that first set.

"We really came out hot and fast. We did kind of what we wanted to do and then went from there."

The Blue Team answered with a win in what was a close second set. Blazina buried a kill to tie the score 22-22 and the Blue side scored three of the next four points to even the match.

The third set was just as tight. The Blue Team built a 21-18 advantage after a kill by Billings Senior's Maddie Swanson, but the Red squad came back to tie it on an Allen tip and eventually prevailed on a big block by Belt's Trinity Tinsen.

The fourth and final set ended the way it started — with Pierce pounding kills. Pierce scored three of her team's last four points, including the dagger kill to end the match.

Aiding the Red Team's cause was Allen, the Montana Gatorade player of the year for 2023. The future MSU Billings Yellowjacket finished with 34 assists, five kills, 11 digs and two service aces.

Breeding collected 14 kills while Hardin's Macy Uffelman had 11. Pierce also had three stuff blocks while Tinsen led with 3.5. Ban had 36 digs in the back row, while Kalispell Glacier's Haven Speer dug up 15 balls.

Swanson led the Blue Team with 13 kills, and Blazina added 12. Billings Senior's Piper Jette added 10 kills. Billings West's Austin Long had 36 digs and three aces for the Blue Team, and Jenna Garvert of Belgrade had 38 assists.

Blazina and Missoula Sentinel's Bailey Casagrande each had 20 digs for the Blue All-Stars.

In the final volleyball match of their high school careers, the players reveled in the opportunity to compete as all-stars no matter the outcome.

"It was amazing to play with the most talented girls on Montana," Breeding said. "It was so much fun. It was awesome to win, but it was great to play with the best in the state."

Said Blazina: "It was such a good ending to a high school season. These are girls that I've played against forever. It's great that we all got to end on a good note because it was such an honor to be here."