BOZEMAN – Montana’s 2018 state volleyball tournaments are playing out as scripted, at least through opening-round matches in Bozeman.
Though Missoula Hellgate jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the first over favored Billings West, the Bears quickly kicked it into gear. Maddy Dawson the tip – Bears take the first 25-21. Then how about the freshman in second – Kaitlin Grossman with the solo block for the point, then Grossman’s kill attempt is returned, but right back to her, and she won’t miss again. West sweeps – and the big question became, who would they face next?
Old rival Senior – or Monica Grimsrud’s alma mater, Helena High? Broncs fired up to start – Olivia Easton with the big block! But Helena keeps coming at them – Elizabeth Heuiser gets the kill to fall. Then it’s Jamie Pickens – big swing down the middle. Now outside to Abby Marcille who picks out the perfectspot in the back corner. Helena wins a tight game one, and then rolls in the next two. It’s Bengals – Bears tonight.
To Class A – no easy opener for Central. The Rams taking on Columbia Falls. Wildkats the better team early – Ryley Kehr gets the tip to the empty spot. They take game one. But back comes Central behind Olivia Moten-Schell. A dig, and then a hammer down the middle. Now Moten-Schell on the left side, down the line for another. Now on the right, how about another! Central comes back to win three straight and advance.
It was a devilish matchup in Class A’s first game – Glendive, the Red Devils, against Corvallis, the Blue Devils. And this round was all blue. Hannah Hutchison down the line for the kill. Then Isabel Evans with the sneaky serve – right into the front corner for the ace. Corvallis can do it all – Casey Fison digs it, over to Maureen Jessop who hammers it home. Central gets the Blue Devils next.
Could Hardin get another Eastern A win? Taking on Libby, where 6-3 senior Mehki Sykes is a problem. The Loggers continually give her quick opportunities that she usually does this with. But Hardin would battle – Mariah Simmons on the slide, gets the crosscourt kill. Bulldogs even it up at one game a piece. But Libby just too tough – big swing from Jayden Winslow that Hardin can’t handle. Libby takes the match.
We told you yesterday about Huntley Project’s dominance this year. They’re 30-0 – with only one set loss. Make it two – Imani Bighorn down the middle, Wolf Point wins the first 25-23. And then Project had enough. Alana Graves shows she can do that – big swing. Then it’s Mollee Krum playing defense on Bighorn, back-to-back solo blocks. Red Devils win the next three easily. The jitters are gone – they’re moving on.
One of the most impressive performances of the day? Roundup, taking on perennial contender Choteau, who couldn’t get it past Meghan Eiselein. Two huge blocks to set the tone in the opening set – Roundup would actually take the first two. Bulldogs finally decide to go outside, and it works a little better – Michaela Gunderson off the block and down for the point. Choteau led 20-16 in the third – but Roundup scores the nine of the final 10. Chloe Cota inside the back line – Panthers sweep to move on.
Would it be an all Southern quarter with Joliet? J-Hawks taking on Florence-Carlton. Skyler Wright goes between the block. But Joliet didn’t have an answer for Sarah Hopcroft. The Falcons junior swinging big all match – first down the line. Then back to back kills down the middle – she leads the Falcons to a 3-0 sweep into the quarters.
Our only local Class C team this year is Bridger – Wayne Moorman and his Scouts taking on Simms who get a big kill from Lissy Willekes here. Tigers take games one and three. Scouts answer with their only senior – Desiree Jones Scott, the track star can swing too – Bridger wins the 2nd and 4th, so we go to a 5th. Simms on game point – start the celebration when Bridger’s kill attempt goes long. Tigers take it 15-8.
But the biggest news of the day came after the match. Moorman telling us this will be his final state tournament. The Hall of Famer calling it a career in 2018.