Havre Daily News Sports Writer
CHINOOK - The Chinook Sugarbeeters on Saturday took another step toward their season-long goal of winning the state championship by defeating the Great Falls Central Mustangs 25-18, 25-22 and 26-24 to capture the Northern C divisional championship.
Coming into the tournament, it seemed that a showdown between Chinook and Great Falls Central was imminent. The Mustangs came into the tournament with only one loss and ranked as the top team in all of Class C. By the end of the weekend, Chinook would make a big statement as it defeated the Mustangs twice on its way to the championship.
The two teams met in the semifinal match Friday night. Chinook was able to pull out the victory in an exciting five-game match by scores of 25-15, 26-28, 16-25, 25-19 and 15-5. The Beeters were led by Kassie Dugan with 13 kills. Morgan Obie pitched in with five aces, and Georgia Barber contributed five blocks.
“It's been a real team effort all year long,” Chinook head coach Doug Hayes said. “We have got contributions from everyone.”
Another team from the 6C district that had a good weekend in Chinook was the Valier Panthers. Valier fought its way through the loser-out bracket to get third place.
On Friday, Valier eliminated Chester/J-I from the tournament with scores of 18-25, 25-23, 25-20 and 25-11. Valier was led by Aisha Snyder with 19 kills and nine blocks.
Chester/J-I got a good effort from Brianne Wolfe with 15 kills.
Valier then downed Dutton-Brady 25-14, 25-18 and 25-21 to keep its hopes of qualifying for the state tournament alive. Snyder had another solid match, with nine kills and four blocks. Malen Augare contributed with 16 digs.
Big Sandy was eliminated Friday when it was defeated by Highwood, 21-25, 26-28, 25-18 and 23-25. The Pioneers got a solid effort from Jessica Amsbaugh with 12 kills. Shersteen Cline had 15 digs in a losing effort. The win for Highwood set up a match with Valier on Saturday morning.
With third place on the line, Valier defeated Highwood 25-13, 25-16, 23-25 and 25-19. Snyder had a spectacular effort with 23 kills and six blocks. Ashley Breding pitched in with 17 digs, and Maranda Laverdure had 27 assists. The Panthers' win set up a match with Great Falls Central, with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, they just didn't have enough to overcome Great Falls Central and star players Carolyn and Katherine Geschwill. Carolyn Geschwill led the Mustangs with 18 kills. Sister Katherine also had a big game, contributing nine aces, five blocks and 17 digs.
The Mustangs beat the Panthers in three games by scores of 25-13, 25-21 and 25-23.
The Mustangs' win set up the match everyone had been looking forward to. For the Mustangs to win the championship, they would have to beat the Beeters in two consecutive matches.
The Beeters came out looking as if they had something to prove, and rolled over the Mustangs in a convincing three-game sweep.
Chinook fell behind early in the match 5-1. Then Barber sparked the Beeters with a series of hustle plays that gave the Beeters the early momentum.
“Georgia is a real explosive player,” Hayes said. “She keeps her head in big games. She has been an inspiration for this team all season.”
Once Chinook got the momentum, it refused to relinquish it and the Beeters won the first game 25-18. Chinook would never trail in the second game and won 25-22. The Beeters took a 23-18 lead in game three and held off a late run by the Mustangs to seal the win and the title.
“We definitely weren't running on all cylinders this weekend,” Hayes said. “But in crunch time we came together and found a way to play our best volleyball when we needed to. We made big plays at key times and we got the job done.”
The Beeters were paced by Obie with 11 kills. Barber had a fine day with 12 digs and three blocks.
The Panthers were led by Carolyn Geschwill with 13 kills. Katherine Geschwill contributed with seven blocks, and Raeanne Heavy Runner pitched in three aces.
“I am really proud of the way our girls came together this weekend,” Hayes said. “We struggled at times, but we kept our head during the big moments.”
The Beeters will move on to the state tournament, which begins Thursday in Bozeman. Hayes said that if his teams plays its game, it has as good a chance as anyone.
“Every game is going to be tough,” Hayes said. “But if we play well, I think we have to be considered one of the top teams.”
NORTHERN C AT CHINOOK
Valier def. Chester/J-I
18-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-11 (loser-out)
Valier - Kills 44 (Aisha Snyder 1); Aces 2 (Brandy Ahern 1, Asshley Breding 1); Digs 81 (Breding 25); Blocks 32 (Snyder 9); Assists 24 (Maranda Laverdure 21).
C/J-I - Kills 39 (Brianne Wolfe 15); Aces 4 (Hannah Pimley 1); Digs 65 (Pimley 13, Chelsea Stokes 13); Blocks 7 (Pimley 4); Assists 32 (Keyla Briese 13).
Highwood def. Big Sandy
25-21, 28-26, 18-25, 25-23 (loser-out)
Highwood - Kills 24 (Rachel Semansky 11); Aces 8 (Jamie Hartman 3); Digs 116 (Whitney Baum 19); Blocks 8 (Semansky 5); Assists 16 (Donnetta Gondeiro 10).
Big Sandy - Kills 40 (Jessica Amsbaugh 12); Aces (Kourtney Danreuther 3); Digs 65 (Shersteen Cline 15); Blocks 7 (Sarah Yirsa 4); Assists 34 (Kacy Herron 29)
Valier def. Highwood
25-13, 25-16, 23-25, 25-19
Valier - Kills 59 (Aisha Snyder 23); Aces 3 (Sarah Widhalm 1); Digs 80 (Ashley Breding 17); Blocks 12 (Snyder 6); Assists 46 (Maranda Laverdure 27).
Highwood - Kills 35 (Whitney Baum 11); Aces 7 (Donnetta Gondeiro 3); Digs 78 (Baum 18); Blocks 2 (2 tied with 1); Assists 32 (Gondeiro 20).
Great Falls Central def. Valier
25-13, 25-21, 25-23
Great Falls Central - Kills 35 (Carolyn Geschwill 18); Aces 19 (Geschwill 9); Digs 80 (Geschwill 17); Blocks 5 (Geschwill 5); Assists 31 (Raeanne Heavy Runner 29).
Valier - Stats not available
Chinook def. Great Falls Central
25-18, 25-22, 26-24
Chinook - Kills 39 (Morgan Obie 11); Aces 5 (Gen Burkhartsmeyer 2); Digs 43 (Georgia Barber 12); Blocks 3 (Barber 3); Assists 32 (Crystal Roseberry 29).
Great Falls Central - Kills 25 (Carolyn Geschwill 13); Aces 8 (Raeanne Heavy Runner 3); Digs 57 (Heavy Runner 16); Blocks 11 (Kathleen Geschwill 7); Assists 23 (Raeanne Heavy Runner 17).