BOZEMAN — Prior to the start of the season, Corvallis coach Kasey Arceniega told her players to pick a spirit animal to represent each of them.
Friday, at lunch, Arceniega had her players drew pictures of their spirit animals … in outer space.
“Your spirit animals are aligning the stars for us,” Arceniega told them.
It worked, apparently. The Blue Devils, in their second win of the day, swept Libby in the fourth-place match, 25-22, 25-18, 25-21. That sent Corvallis into Saturday morning’s third-place match against Belgrade.
Maureen Jessop had 11 kills and the Blue Devils (26-5) served 10 aces to keep their season alive. Interestingly, it's the same three teams left standing as last year (including Billings Central).
Will the stars remain in alignment for the Blue Devils? Corvallis and Belgrade met at the Blocktoberfest tournament in Butte earlier this season with the Panthers coming out on top.
“They’re just incredibly consistent,” Arceniega said. “I think we’re a dynamic team, I think we’re aggressive, but it’s going to be a challenge matching their consistency. We’re hoping to do that tomorrow and stay aggressive at the same time.”
Jayden Winslow had 13 kills and Alli Collins had 32 assists for Libby, which finished the season at 23-7. The Loggers also finished fourth last season.
The winner of the Corvallis-Belgrade match will face Billings Central in the championship at 1 p.m.
Central (24-6) returned to the title round to defend the championship it earned last season. The Rams swept Belgrade 25-23, 28-26, 26-24 in the undefeated semifinal.
Corvallis 3, Hardin 1
Maureen Jessop had 19 kills and 21 digs to help Corvallis sweep Hardin 26-24, 25-15, 31-29 in a loser-out match.
Hardin had three set points in the third set and Corvallis two before the Blue Devils finally closed things out.
Hannah Martin added 46 assists and Casey Fison 29 digs for the Blue Devils (25-5) who advanced to the fourth-place match against Libby.
Mariah Simmons had 10 kills for Hardin. Natalie Edgar added 31 assists and 21 digs for the Bulldogs (16-15).
Hellgate 3, Billings Senior 2
Missoula Hellgate won the final two sets in a match that went the distance to keep its season going.
The Knights toppled Billings Senior 25-21, 21-25, 18-25, 25-22, 15-7.
The only team in the tournament field with a losing record, Hellgate (12-16) advanced to another loser-out game against Bozeman.
Kylie Lunday, who scored the match’s final point, led Hellgate with nine kills. Liza Littig had 31 assists and Lunday, Gillian Sherrill and Haleigh Irwin had five blocks each.
Olivia Easton had 11 kills and Karli Steiner 10 for Senior, which ended its season at 25-9. Tavy Findon had 24 assists, six blocks and four aces.
Bozeman 3, Hellgate 1
Fifth-ranked Bozeman held off pesky Hellgate Friday afternoon, sending the Hawks into the fourth-place match.
Jo Jo Radick added nine kills and four blocks, and Bella Wanderer also had nine kills for the Hawks (23-8).
Hellgate, coming off an upset win over Billings Senior, seemed to have momentum after its third-set win. But Bozeman quickly took control of the fourth set and went on to the victory.
The Knights received six kills from Hannah Worden and seven blocks from Gillian Sherrill and finished the season 12-17.
Huntley Project 3, Florence 0
The relentless Red Devils breezed past the Falcons 25-9, 25-14, 25-13 in 59 minutes in the unbeaten semifinal match.
Huntley Project, which has won 66 matches in a row, will play for its 11th state championship Saturday. It is the 15th title match for the Red Devils and 10th year in a row of playing for the crown.
Florence fell into the third-place match at 11 a.m.
Alana Graves had a match-high 15 kills for Huntley Project. Amanda Cranford and Emily Poole had eight apiece. Maggie Taylor finished with a team-high 19 digs and Addy Hultgren had 36 assists, eight digs, two blocks and two aces. Taylor also had two aces.
Sarah Hopcroft had nine kills and nine digs for the Falcons.