BOZEMAN – Only Round 1 winners in action during tonight’s Montana’s State Volleyball quarterfinals, and for the first time in eight years, that included West High.
The Bears hadn’t won in the opening round since they made a run to the championship in 20-10, losing to Helena High and star senior Monica Grimsrud. Now, Grimsrud is West’s coach – and wanted nothing more than to beat her alma mater. Tight first – Helena’s Emily Feller goes quick tip – Bengals win it 27-25 to take the lead. To the second – and the point of the match – Kaitlyn Grossman is blocked, but it goes off her head and lands for the point! The most unlikely kill you’ll ever see – coach Grimsrud rubbing that head for good luck! And it worked. Ellie Scherrfius hammers it between the block – Bears win game two. Here’s the second unlikeliest kill – Paige Smith digs it, and finds the perfect spot! West takes a 2-1 lead. Helena right back at them in the 4th – Jamie Pickens led everyone with 17 kills in the match – we go to a decisive 5th. Maddy Dawson – the senior, with the kill to pull West within match point. Helena would save three of them, but on 14-13, the serve is into the net! And have you ever seen a coach celebrate harder than the players? Grimsrud goes nuts – she deserves it as the Bears are into the semis.
“I mean, it’s deep for me,” smiled Grimsrud. “This is kind of the setup that it was my senior year. Helena-West playing in this match right here. Going into it, I’ve got that in the back of my mind, and I just wanted so bad for West to win it this time.”
So that’s one Billings team – could Central make it two? The defending champs taking on top-seed Corvallis, and the Blue Devils know to go to senior Maureen Jessop. One of 16 kills and a 25-23 game one win. But here’s the turning point in game two – Rams senior Blayne Meyer starts to absolutely dominate the net. Count em – one, two, three straight blocks for Meyer – Central had 14 in the match! Rams even it in game two. Game three – Taylor Bowen gets in on the act – the sharp angle kill falls as Central takes a 2-1 lead. And they know who to go to finish it – Olivia Moten-Schell – 25 kills, including the last one! Don’t write off Central yet – the Rams are back.
Huntley Project never left. The defending Class B champs have won 64 in a row – make it 65. Mollee Krum with the tip – so dainty. This is more like it – Krum with the hammer! Whoa, what a swing from the senior as the Devils jump in front. They’ve got plenty of weapons – set point – Addy Hultgren serving, Addy Hultgren with the ace. That’s one. More of the same in the second – Alana Graves in the middle, goes crosscourt for the kill. Then it’s Emily Poole who led them in kills this morning – she gets another. Huntley sweeps – they look ready for anyone.
Would that be Roundup? Panthers looked so good against Choteau this morning, but Florence-Carlton ran them out tonight. Emma Stensrud shuts down that attack on game point – Falcons take the opener. Roundup trying to fight back in the second – Chloe Cota with one of her team-leading nine kills. But it wasn’t enough.Sarah Hopcroft just destroys this ball down the middle – she’s one of Class B’s best. Then from defense to offense – the dig, quickly to Shannon Byrne who crushes one in between defenders. It’ll be Florence and Huntley Project tomorrow night.
Our only local Class C team in South Central Montana, Bridger, lost earlier today, but the biggest news came afterwards. Hall of Fame coach Wayne Moorman told us this will be his final state tournament – after 35 years and over 700 wins.
“It’s been enjoyable, is probably the best word I can think of, is that it’s been enjoyable,” said the soft-spoken Moorman. “They have treated me like I have been a king, which I’m not, but they’ve treated me that way, and I’ve appreciated it. They make it pleasant, enjoyable. It doesn’t seem like a job. It’s just kind of a fun thing to do, and I’ve enjoyed that.”
Moorman’s announcement fittingly comes on a day when the only active head coach with more wins than him hit a milestone herself. With two on Thursday, Huntley Project’s Iona Stookey is now at 801 and counting.