BOZEMAN — Manhattan Christian is taking the easy way to a fifth consecutive appearance in the Class C state volleyball championship.
The Eagles swept Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale 25-22, 25-8, 25-20 in the undefeated semifinal Friday at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse to clinch a spot in Saturday's championship match. Manhattan Christian has played for the past four Class C state titles — winning three, including the past two — but has battled back through the consolation bracket each time.
"Every single point, we said we wanted to get that point instead of the whole game. We were just focused on the one point," Manhattan Christian senior Katelyn VanKirk said. "And (Saturday) we really wanted it, because we’ve never done that. Our school has never won the Friday night game."
The ticket to the championship didn't come without its challenges, though. Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale, behind Teagan Erickson, gave the Eagles all they could handle in the first set, leading 18-11 at one point.
"We were kind of in our heads for the first little bit, we were a little flustered because we wanted to win so bad," VanKirk said. "And then all the captains and our coach kind of just came together and said we were gonna turn it around mentally."
And the Eagles did. They rallied from the first-set deficit to take the set 25-22. They rolled from there, blitzing the Mavericks 25-8 in the second set before winning the clincher 25-20.
VanKirk had 13 kills, four aces and five digs to pace the Eagles, who also got another strong performance from Miranda Wyatt with another 13 kills. Karissa VanKirk added four aces.
Erickson had 10 kills to lead Saco-Whitewater-Hinsdale, which will play in the third-place match against Broadus at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Manhattan Christian, seeking its third consecutive title, will meet the winner of the third-place match in the championship at noon Saturday.
"It’s kind of fun (being the favorite), but it’s also kind of hard at the same time because everybody wants to beat you," Katelyn VanKirk said. "And if someone does, then they really want you to just go down. We definitely have to stay up mentally and just go fight for every single point."
For updated scores and pairings, click here.
Broadus def. Chester-Joplin-Inverness 25-13, 25-21, 25-18
Twin Bridges def. Belt 7-25, 25-22, 19-25, 25-14, 17-15
Broadus def. Bridger 27-25, 25-18, 20-25, 21-25, 15-11
Twin Bridges def. Roy-Winifred 16-25, 23-25, 25-20, 25-23, 15-7
Broadus def. Twin Bridges 25-16, 25-14, 25-19 (fourth-place match)