BOZEMAN — Corvallis took control of the fifth set early and earned its way into the Class A girls volleyball championship match for the first time since 2015 with a win over two-time defending champion Billings Central in the undefeated semifinal Friday night at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.
Corvallis won 25-20, 25-16, 14-25, 23-25, 15-9 by scoring five of the first six points in the deciding set, grabbing whatever momentum the Rams had gained when Cindy Gray put down the final kill in set four.
Even first-year Corvallis coach Laurie Jones wasn’t exactly sure how her team recovered so quickly.
“Yeah, that might be a loaded question,” she said with a chuckle. “I don’t think there’s any black-and-white answer. I think no matter what the match is, no matter what the score is, our goal was to keep pushing and it panned out that fifth game.”
Give Jones bonus points for honesty. And give the Blue Devils a chance to win their first state title since 2013.
“It’s what we’ve been talking about all season, and we knew (Billings Central) was the favorite,” said Corvallis senior Hannah Hutchison, who had nine kills and 13 digs. “So it means a lot. We’re probably going to see them again in the championship.”
The Rams hope so, too, but they’ll have to win the third-place match Saturday morning against Glendive for a chance to defend their title. Then, whomever advances to play Corvallis, they’ll have to beat the undefeated Blue Devils twice in the double-elimination format tournament.
“We made it tough on ourselves but I definitely think we’re capable,” Rams coach Kylie Reitz said. “I told the girls we got outplayed in so many different aspects that we have lots of room to play better tomorrow and change the tide for us. Hopefully, it’s going to be a long day.”
Olivia Moten-Schell had 21 kills for lead the Rams. Gray had 10 kills and four blocks, while Maria Stewart had 22 digs and 35 assists.
Isabel Evans had 16 kills and Madeline Gilder 11 kills and 12 digs for Corvallis. Hannah Martin finished with 40 assists and Casey Fison 13 digs.
“I’m feeling a lot of things right now, honestly,” Jones said. “I’m just kind of in shock right now. I’m glad for all of us, the fans, the players, the coaches, that we’re in the championship match.”
Glendive 3, Havre 0
When Karsen Murphy sent down the final kill, she also sent the Red Devils’s spirits soaring.
Glendive’s 25-22, 25-9, 25-21 over the Blue Ponies in the fourth-place match meant the Red Devils will earn their first volleyball trophy in school history.
“It’s insane, honestly,” said Murphy, who had 13 kills and 24 assists. “We have worked so incredibly hard this season and we have earned this, for sure. I’m so proud of the girls.”
Fourth-place Havre was led by Jessa Chvilicek, who four kills and three blocks. Sam Oliver had 12 digs.
Meadow Torres paced Glendive with 21 kills, and Tiana Carney had six aces. Ashley Clapp had 35 digs.
All that remains to be seen for the Red Devils is the color of their trophy. All three — first, second and third — are all in play for them Saturday, starting with the 10 a.m. third-place match against Billings Central.
“One of our goals coming into this tournament was to get into the championship game,” Murphy said. “We still have that opportunity and we’re still reaching for that goal.”
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Havre 3, Columbia Falls 2
Havre’s Jessa Chvilicek scored the final two points with a kill and a block as the Blue Ponies edged Columbia Falls 25-17, 21-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-13 in a loser-out match.
The decisive set was tied 9-9, 11-11, 12-12 and 13-13 before Havre’s senior closed it out.
Chvilichek finished with 12 kills and 2.5 blocks. Sam Oliver contributed 10 assists and 32 digs, while Peyton Brown had 24 digs and 24 assists.
Kiera Brown had 15 kills and Dillen Hoerner 13 kills for Columbia Falls. Maddie Stutsman had 35 assists and Angellica Street had 39 digs.
Glendive 3, Hardin 1
Glendive bounced back from a first-set loss and eliminated Hardin with a 23-25, 25-13, 25-18, 25-15 win in a loser-out match.
Murphy led Glendive with 18 kills and eight blocks, and had 24 assists, as well. Madison Wahl added 14 kills, while Kayla Brown had 26 assists. Meadow Torres led three players in double figures with 33 digs, with Clapp adding 23 and Carney 14.
Nicole Green had nine kills and 10 digs for Hardin. Rilee Green added 13 digs.
Havre 3, Butte Central 0
Sam Oliver had eight kills and 10 digs, and Havre picked up its first state tournament win since 2007 with a 25-11, 25-17, 25-21 sweep of Butte Central in a loser-out match.
Jessa Chvilicek also had eight kills and Talia Ralph contributed four blocks for the Blue Ponies, who are at state for the first time since 2015.
Butte Central was also making its first state appearance since 2015, when the Maroons finished third. Cassidy Strizic led the Maroons with nine kills. Maci Reopelle had 15 digs and 13 assists.
Hardin 3, Polson 0
Alyssa Pretty Weasel and Jonna Lind combined for 30 kills to help Hardin sweep Polson.
Pretty Weasel finished with 16 kills and Lind 14 for the Bulldogs, who finished with 37 kills overall compared to Polson’s 27 in the 25-13, 26-24, 25-22 win.
Lind added 13 digs, and Nicole Green had six aces for Hardin, which served 10 aces for the match.
Grace Quinones led Polson with 11 kills and added 11 digs. Maggie Todd had 10 kills and 22 digs, while Ara Mercer had a match-high 24 digs.