(Editor's note: Watch Day 1 video highlights by scrolling through the videos above)
BOZEMAN -- Last fall, Bridger had to go the long way to qualify for the Class C state volleyball championship game. This weekend, the Scouts lightened their load.
Bridger swept Fort Benton 25-17, 28-26, 25-20 on Thursday night to advance to Friday's undefeated semifinal. Last year's runner-up Scouts were led by Sami Fusco's 18 assists, while Emily Adkins (14) and Jenna Kallevig (6) combined for 20 of the team's 34 kills. Both added a trio of aces, while Kallevig also had a block against the eager Longhorns.
Fort Benton picked up seven kills from both McKenzie Clark and Nicole Axtman. The Longhorns will play a 2 p.m. loser-out game against either Belt or Roy-Winifred, who meet at 10 a.m., while Bridger faces Manhattan Christian at 6 p.m. with the winner moving on to the State C championship game.
PHOTOS: STATE VOLLEYBALL DAY 1
Manhattan Christian def. Plentywood 23-25, 25-20, 25-14, 27-25
Kiersten VanKirk led Manhattan Christian in three statistical categories Thursday evening, boosting the Eagles past Plentywood in the Class C state volleyball tournament's second round. Manhattan Christian won by scores of 23-25, 25-20, 25-14, 27-25.
After dropping the opening set, VanKirk and the Eagles found another gear throughout the match with the 6-foot-2 sophomore VanKirk finishing the match with 20 kills, three blocks and two aces. Taylor DeVries had 30 assists in the match, many to VanKirk, to pace the Eagles to the undefeated semifinal on Friday night.
Plentywood, which defeated last year's champion Belt in the opening round, started the match strong and actually won the kill battle, tallying 44 to the Eagles' 40. Donn Longan had 24 kills and Liv Wangerin chipped in with 16. The duo also each had two aces in the loss.
Manhattan Christian, which finished fourth at state last year, will meet either Bridger or Fort Benton in Friday's undefeated semifinal. The Scouts and Longhorns cap the night for the State C tournament.
Plentywood awaits the winner between Friday's noon loser-out match between Westby-Grenora and Charlo. The Wildcats will face either the Thunder or Vikings at 4 p.m. Friday.
Fort Benton def. Charlo 30-28, 22-25, 25-17, 26-24
Fort Benton needed an extra five points to win its opening set at the Class C state volleyball tournament on Thursday, but that momentum carried the Longhorns to a four-set victory over Charlo to end the first round at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman. Fort Benton beat the Vikings by scores of 30-28, 22-25, 25-17, 26-24.
Nicole Axtman had 21 kills, McKenzie Clark added 18 and Abby Clark had nine as the Longhorns combined for a whopping 62 kills in the match. That offensive power was matched by the Horns' defense, which saw Axtman with a team-high 19 digs. Jasmine Wilson added 18 digs and Maci Molinario posted 11. The Clarks also combined for five blocks in the victory.
The Longhorns, winners of the Northern C divisional, meet Southern C power Bridger on Thursday night in an 8 p.m. quarterfinal. Charlo squares off against Westby-Grenora Friday at noon, with the loser's season coming to a close.
Bridger def. Westby-Grenora 25-23, 25-11, 25-16
Sami Fusco and Emily Adkins combined for 27 assists, while Adkins added a game-high 18 kills as Bridger defeated Westby-Grenora in straight sets at the Class C state volleyball tournament in Bozeman on Thursday. The Scouts won by scores of 25-23, 25-11, 25-16.
Fusco had 17 assists as Bridger had an impressive 45 team kills, with Adkins leading the charge and Jenna Kallevig adding 12. Kallevig had the Scouts' lone ace in the win, as Bridger had 61 digs and eight blocks. Kyndra Reichert and hope Buessing had three blocks each.
Westby-Grenora picked up 13 kills from Jenna Rust and 21 assists from Elizabeth Field but falls to loser-out action on Friday at noon. The Thunder await the loser between Fort Benton and Charlo, while Bridger will face the winner of the Longhorns-Vikings match Thursday night at 8 p.m.
Manhattan Christian def. Roy-Winifred 25-10, 25-12, 19-25, 25-15
Kiersten VanKirk had 18 kills and four aces, while Taylor DeVries added 40 assists and 29 digs as Manhattan Christian defeated Roy-Winifred in four sets in the opening round of the Class C state volleyball tournament in Bozeman on Thursday. The Eagles won 25-10, 25-12, 19-25, 25-15.
VanKirk was excellent for Christian's offense, which had 48 kills compared to the Outlaws' 25. The Eagles' defense also had 11 blocks, four from Hailey VanDyken.
Roy-Winifred got 18 digs, eight kills and four blocks from Dyauni Boyce, while Cassie Smith had 25 assists in the loss. The Outlaws meet defending champion Belt on Friday morning in a loser-out contest.
Manhattan Christian will face Plentywood Thursday evening in a 6 p.m. second-round contest. The winner advances to Friday's undefeated semifinal.
Plentywood def. Belt 14-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-14
Plentywood knocked off defending state champion Belt in four sets on Thursday morning to open the 2019 Class C state volleyball tournament at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman. The Wildcats defeated the Huskies 14-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-14.
Liv Wangerin was excellent at the net for Plentywood, posting a match-high 18 kills to go with three blocks. Donn Longan added 14 kills and six aces for Plentywood coach Becky Kukowski.
Ashtyn Curtiss and Megan Marriage set up the majority of Plentywood's 40 team kills, with Curtiss recording 21 assists and Marriage adding 12. Shayla Fancett was also instrumental in the win after tallying 15 digs and four aces.
Belt had an astounding 81 digs in the match, 17 from Kyelie Marquis, but couldn't find key points in the final three sets. The Huskies got 12 kills from Marquis and 30 assists from Kolby Pimperton in the loss.
Belt now looks to bounce back in a Friday loser-out contest against the winner between Manhattan Christian and Roy-Winifred. Plentywood awaits the winner of that match in a Thursday 6 p.m. contest.