SHELBY -- Day 1 of the State B volleyball tournament in Shelby began on Thursday morning with six matches scheduled to take place throughout the day. For updated scores and pairings from the tournament, please click here.
For photos from Day 1 of the State B tournament, please click here.
JOLIET DEF. COLSTRIP 25-18, 25-20, 25-20
It's time for the rematch, Version 8.
Rivals Joliet and Huntley Project will square off for the eighth time this season after the J-Hawks swept past Colstrip 25-18, 25-20, 25-20 on Thursday evening in the quarterfinal round of the State B volleyball tournament.
“That was our goal going into (Thursday), this was the game to get us a trophy, but also another chance for us to meet Huntley Project," said Joliet hitter Skyler Wright. "We’ve been in the undefeated semifinals with Huntley Project all year (at districts and divisionals), so we wanted to be there again. It’s a big deal for us to play them, and we’re ready to go get them.”
But Colstrip, which defeated previously unbeaten Anaconda in the opening round, started strong on Thursday evening, and wasn't poised to let the J-Hawks stroll to the undefeated semifinal round. But Joliet found its groove and started dancing, as the J-Hawks call it.
“Our coach calls it dancing. We dance together, we move as one unit," explained Wright. "When we’re moving as one unit, that’s when we’re playing our best volleyball. That’s the biggest thing for us, is just gelling together.”
“When everybody is transitioning off together, blocking together, approaches, it just looks so nice," added senior Makenna Bushman. "It just feels like the whole team is gelling. It calms everybody down.”
Bushman had a team-high 13 kills, while Skyler Wright chipped in with 10, and the fireworks were on display at the net as the J-Hawks tacked on 32 team kills. Merrin Schwend doled out 29 assists in the win.
“This was Colstrip’s first time to state in a while and they just got off that really good win earlier, so we knew they would be really pumped up," said Bushman. "We came into the game, Huntley Project and Choteau were playing, and the energy in the gym was so high, we knew we had to match the energy.”
Now, it's time for Southern B foes to continue their rivalry, an octuple kind of competition in 2020. Joliet snapped Huntley Project's 101-match win streak earlier this year, then defeated the Red Devils at the district tournament. Huntley Project added the latest victory at last weekend's divisional tournament.
“We knew it was going to be a battle back and forth all season, for sure," Bushman said of the J-Hawk/Red Devil rivalry this season. "All we can do is all we can do. We’re going to give it all we got, I know Huntley Project is going to give it all they’ve got, and we’re just going to see how it goes.”
HUNTLEY PROJECT DEF. CHOTEAU 25-23, 25-18, 25-6
The Choteau volleyball team has had its fair share of Class B state tournament matches against perennial power Huntley Project. The Red Devils have won the majority of those en route to numerous state championships, so Thursday evening the Bulldogs were prepared to right the ship.
Choteau shot out of the gates in the first State B quarterfinal, taking an early lead and the ensuing momentum, but Huntley Project, winners of the past three State B titles, settled down, settled in and quickly turned the tide in a straight-set sweep, winning by scores of 25-23, 25-18, 25-6.
“We were definitely not expecting (Choteau's hot start), but their energy made us come out stronger, so I think that helped a lot," said Huntley Project junior outside hitter Josie Hasler.
“They had so much energy. We just tried to match it," echoed senior middle Josee Krum. "In the next two sets, we just tried to beat them with the energy, keep it up and keep pushing.”
The Red Devils' "Jo Squad," as they're known, led the offensive charge Thursday evening, tallying 14 kills each and changing the momentum of the match midway through the first set. A timeout by head coach Iona Stookey offered a short, yet stern, message.
“I think it was kind of, ‘Let’s go.’ After that it was kind of a turning point, ‘Let’s just finish it,’” said Krum.
The match was seemingly never in doubt after the Red Devils rallied for the opening-set win. Huntley Project took a quick 5-0 lead in the second set, Krum and Hasler made multiple plays at the net, where Cearra Oblander added eight kills of her own. Macee Murphy passed for 38 assists and Greta Peterson served a pair of aces.
Hasler had a team-high 25 digs.
“Our whole goal throughout the entire season was to work hard, play together, and our main goal was to talk," said Hasler, "and I think that’s what got us here. Our grit and hustle got us here, too, so we’re happy to have that.”
Choteau got nine kills from Emma Gunderson and 13 combined from Ellie Lee and Ada Bieler, but falls to a 4 p.m. loser-out contest on Friday.
JOLIET DEF. FAIRFIELD 25-19, 25-12, 25-11
Makenna Bushman and Skyler Wright had 10 kills each, with Bushman adding two aces and 1.5 blocks as Joliet cruised past Fairfield in straight sets at the State B volleyball tournament's opening round. The J-Hawks won by scores of 25-19, 25-12, 25-11.
Merrin Schwend composed the offense for Joliet, dishing 22 of the team's 23 assists in the match. Bushman and Wright were on the receiving end of the majority of those passes, keeping Fairfield's defense guessing.
The Eagles were led by Kyler Baker's 14 assists and two blocks.
Joliet advances to Thursday's 8 p.m. quarterfinal match against Southern B foe Colstrip. Fairfield will meet Anaconda in a loser-out match on Friday at noon.
COLSTRIP DEF. ANACONDA 16-25, 25-18, 25-19, 21-25, 15-9
There will be no unbeaten teams in Class B volleyball this season. Colstrip ended previously-unbeaten Anaconda's unblemished run with a five-set victory in the opening round of the State B tournament on Thursday.
Addison Casterline and Baily Egan led the Fillies with double-digit kills, as Colstrip rallied from a first-set defeat to win the next two. Anaconda, the Western B champion, forced a decisive fifth set, but Colstrip jumped to a 6-0 lead and led by as many as eight in the set.
Colstrip will advance to the 8 p.m. quarterfinal on Thursday evening, meeting Joliet. Anaconda will look to keep its season alive in a Friday noon loser-out match against Fairfield.
CHOTEAU DEF. THOMPSON FALLS 25-18, 25-16, 25-19
Soren Cummings tallied 13 digs and three aces, Christine Funk dished out 23 assists and Emma Gunderson recorded 10 kills as Choteau swept past Thompson Falls in the opening round of the State B volleyball tournament in Shelby. The Bulldogs won by scores of 25-18, 25-16, 25-19.
Cummings was one of three Bulldogs to record double-digit digs, with Funk adding 13 and Ada Bieler chipping in with 12, as Choteau's defense kept the Thompson Falls hitters at bay. Scarlette Schwindt led the Blue Hawks with nine kills.
Choteau also defended the net, with Ellie Lee (5), Bieler (3) and Funk (2) helping the Bulldogs to 11 blocks in the match.
Choteau advances to Thursday evening's 6 p.m. quarterfinal against reigning Class B champion Huntley Project. Thompson Falls will meet Florence on Friday morning at 10 a.m. in loser-out action.
HUNTLEY PROJECT DEF. FLORENCE 25-4, 25-9, 25-12
Three Huntley Project hitters had double-digit kills as the Red Devils rolled past Florence in straight sets in the first match of the State B volleyball tournament in Shelby.
Josee Krum had 12 kills, Josie Hasler added 11 and Greta Peterson had 10 for Project, the champion from the Southern B. Macee Murphy assisted 34 times and added four aces and seven digs in the win. The Red Devil defense held the Falcons to only 10 kills in the match.
Huntley Project advances to Thursday's 6 p.m. match against Choteau, while Florence will meet Thompson Falls on Friday morning in a loser-out contest.