Class C volleyball

Defending champion Belt celebrates its victory over Gardiner on Thursday night in the Class C state volleyball tournament.

DEAN HENDRICKSON, For 406mtsports.com

BOZEMAN — Given an option, the Ennis volleyball team prefers the road taken in 2017.

“We’ll take the shorter route,” coach Betty Klein said.

Powered by hitters Jourdain Klein — coach Klein’s daughter — and Danyel Martin, the Mustangs muscled their way into the Class C state championship volleyball match for a second straight year at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.

Ennis used 53 kills to defeat defending state champion Belt 25-17, 25-17, 22-25 and a statement-leaving 25-5 in the undefeated semifinal on Friday.

The championship match is at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Mustangs are chasing their first state volleyball title since 2009.

Belt is also a guaranteed a top-three finish for a third straight year.

Last November, the Huskies forced the Mustangs to take the long road, beating Ennis in the quarterfinals. The Mustangs won two matches before falling to the Huskies in the title match.

“Coming into today, we were looking forward to paying them back for last year,” senior Payton Fortner said. “Everybody is working really hard. Our passes are amazing, we’ve been putting a big block up and our hitters have been playing well.”

Klein and Martin combined for 43 of Ennis' kills. Klein, a junior, had 24; Martin, a senior, added 19. The 6-foot-3 Martin also had five blocks and five aces, while Klein added eight digs and three blocks.

Fortner had 31 assists and 11 digs.

“They are amazing to watch,” Fortner added of her team’s two primary hitters. “Offensively, we have to do our things and that’s attack, attack, attack. We have to play our game, which is swing away.”

Adrian Malek led Belt with 12 kills and 15 digs. Kolby Pimperton had 28 assists.

Belt will now have to come back through the third-place match if it wants to defend its title.

“We just have to be ready for every game,” Fortner said. “We have to expect the best from everybody we play.”

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