MALTA — Different setting. Same teams. Same result.
For a second straight year, Bridger rallied from a deficit in the State C volleyball tournament undefeated semifinal to beat Manhattan Christian in five sets, 18-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-10.
Bridger advances to the State C championship matchup for a third consecutive year, where it awaits the winner of the third-place match between Manhattan Christian and Plentywood.
After falling in a 2-0 hole, the Scouts eked out a win in the third. It was in the fourth set where a flip seemingly switched.
The Eagles built a 17-13 lead before the Scouts locked in and turned the tables. Even though the gymnasium in Malta had limited capacity, the Bridger fans in attendance grew more and more raucous with each successive point and momentum swing.
In the fifth set, the two teams played to a 9-9 tie before Bridger closed the match with a 5-1 run.
“This is exactly what happened last year with them in the semis,” said senior Emily Adkins. “We just wanted it so bad. We have so many seniors on that team and we just went point by point. After they won the first two, we just felt like it was 0-0. We had three more sets to play if we want them, and our girls wanted them.”
Adkins posted an incredible stat line for Bridger with 24 kills, 23 digs, three aces, three blocks and eight assists.
“I’m out of words, honestly. The team never gave up, and before the match I said we were going to have to give our heart,” Adkins said. “We have to give it all, and our girls executed and did exactly that.”
The Scouts handed reigning state champion Manhattan Christian its first loss of the season. But if last year taught Bridger anything it’s that the work is hardly over.
In 2019, the Eagles fought back to win the third-place match on Saturday morning to force a rematch in the championship, and then took two straight from Bridger to relegate the Scouts to a runner-up finish. Bridger is determined not to meet the same fate, regardless of who it faces Saturday afternoon in the championship match.
The Scouts roster boasts eight seniors. As freshmen, they finished fourth, then followed that with two runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2019. There’s only one more goal left to check off their list.
“As a senior, (Saturday) is our last day together, so I think just we’re going to give it all we got to get through it,” Adkins said. “Just feeling that experience of winning (Friday), just putting ourselves in that position, I think it will be worth it.”
Jenna Kallevig led the Scouts with 25 kills, Kyra Kroll had 36 digs and Baileigh Skorupa recorded 24 assists.
Manhattan Christian was led by Kiersten VanKirk with 25 kills, Taylor Devries with 43 assists, Hailey VanDyken with seven blocks, and Maddie Visser with 22 digs.
PLENTYWOOD DEF. FORT BENTON 25-21, 21-25, 25-14, 25-22
Liv Wangerin had 22 kills and four aces, Ashtyn Curtiss added 34 assists and the Plentywood Wildcats eliminated the Fort Benton Longhorns in four sets at the State C volleyball tournament in Friday’s nightcap.
Plentywood won 25-21, 21-25, 25-14, 25-22 to advance to the third-place match against Manhattan Christian on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Wangerin and Shayla Fawcett each added 12 digs toward a team total of 50. Katie Simonson led the Wildcats with eight blocks.
“I can’t even describe it. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of. I think this is the farthest our team in Plentywood school history has ever gone, so it means a lot,” Wangerin said. “Definitely a resilient group. They’ve worked hard all year and this is what we’ve been shooting for, so I think we’ll be ready.”
Abby Clark led Fort Benton with 15 kills, Maci Molinario added 13 assists and Jasmine Wilson led the Longhorns with 16 digs.