Havre eliminated following loss to Livingston Friday
By Jason Shoot
With several experienced teammates on the volleyball court alongside her at any given time, Belgrade sophomore Becky Suhr may occasionally get a tad overlooked by opponents.
Suhr smashed 16 kills and her contribution was the X' factor necessary to lift Belgrade to a hard-fought 15-11, 15-8, 11-15, 15-6 victory over Fergus in the championship match of the Central A volleyball tournament this past weekend at the Havre High gym.
Both teams advanced to the state tournament, and they will be joined by Dillon, which secured the Central A's third berth to state.
Fergus led the Panthers 11-9 in the first game, but Sage Dubois served three straight points, and Suhr then finished the game with three points of her own to give Belgrade the early advantage.
Belgrade then came out in the second game and was clutching onto a 7-6 lead before scoring four points in a row to stake a five-point advantage. That lead held up until Mary Beitman's ace gave Belgrade a 15-8 win in the second game.
Fergus woke up offensively in the third game, racing ahead 7-1 behind six straight service points by Megan Berg. Belgrade fought back to within 11-8, but Keely Jeide's ace gave the Eagles their first glimmer of hope with the 15-11 win in the third game.
That hope quickly vanished when Belgrade setter Carly Pickthorn picked apart Fergus's passing game with her serves and gave the Panthers a 6-0 lead to open the fourth game. Kills by Suhr and Dubois ended the match and gave Belgrade the tournament championship.
"The girls have worked so hard," Belgrade coach Dawna DaMaere said. "They stepped up to the challenge."
"It feels nice (going to state)," Suhr said. "We all contributed, and it was nice to know I was a part of that."
Fergus coach Sterling Sundheim was pleased with his team's performance during the tournament.
"We're playing some of our best volleyball right now," he said. "Now we need to carry that over to state."
Beitman also had 16 kills for Belgrade, and Rosie Meyn added 11. Pickthorn was the same steady self she had been all tournament and finished with 40 assists.
Lindsay Garcia paced Fergus with a match-high 18 kills, and Amie d'Autremont and Dani Buchler added 13 and 10, respectively. Eagles setter Megan Berg dished out 39 assists.
FERGUS 3, DILLON 0 These same two teams met earlier in the tournament and provided spectators with one of the most thrilling matches of the event that ended with Fergus surviving with a five-game victory.
Garcia, however, did not give Dillon an opportunity to get revenge with the tourney's most dominating performance.
Garcia, the league's top kill-getter entering the tournament, displayed overwhelming power en route to 19 kills, leading the Eagles to a 15-7, 15-7, 15-6 victory that ended Dillon's stay in the tournament.
The Eagles came out in each game fired up and ready to go, racing ahead 8-0 in the first game, 9-1 in the second and 8-2 in the third.
"It was the best start to a match we had all weekend," Sundheim said. "We wanted to focus today and start strong. When we've got high energy we play better defense and have better execution."
Sundheim also reserved compliments for Garcia, who had 19 kills against Dillon in the teams' first meeting but also had 17 hitting errors to negate her effectiveness.
Garcia finished with the same number of kills, but her errors dropped to just seven.
"That was not Lindsay Garcia (against Dillon the first time)," Sundheim said. "This was Lindsay Garcia."
Also for Fergus, Ammie Smith had nine kills, Dani Buchler and Amie d'Autremont each had six, and Berg had 37 assists.
Lynsey Monaco and Robin Russell each provided the Beavers with six kills, and setter Lindsey Scott had 16 assists.
DILLON 3, LIVINGSTON 2 The Beavers displayed an incredible amount of intestinal fortitude with a 17-15, 15-6, 12-15, 8-15, 16-14 win that ended with a thrilling, heart-stopping fifth game that left Dillon headed to state for the first time in 15 years and Livingston on a bus headed home with its season over.
The final game decided by rally-point scoring in which a point is scored every time the ball hits the floor was incredibly close from the opening serve.
Neither team was able to post a lead of more than two points for the entire game, which mercifully ended for spectators on Ashley Stoddard's ace, sending Dillon's players, coaching staff and fans into a frenzy.
"We set out a goal to build a tradition of volleyball here," Dillon coach Megan Conrow said. "It took these girls to do it."
"this is one thing we couldn't do without everyone," Stoddard said. "The bench was so awesome, and everyone was so supportive."
Scott echoed the same thoughts.
"We can't do it without everyone," she said. "The bench did an awesome job and our intensity was great."
HAVRE 3, ANACONDA 0 Havre played some of its best volleyball of the season in this match, consistently stifling Anaconda's offense in a 15-5, 15-7, 15-3 rout.
Anaconda forced 28 sideouts during the match, but Havre's defense kept rallies going and the Copperheads were able to only score following eight sideouts.
"The girls played well all the way through the match," Havre coach Lacy Whitright said.
Amy Ranes had 11 kills for Havre, Jeanna McPherson and Nikki Grant added eight and six, respectively. LaShae Michels had 18 digs and four aces, and setters Samantha Velk and Laura Hedstrom combined for 23 assists.
LIVINGSTON 3, HAVRE 1 The Ponies may have lost the match 15-11, 11-15, 15-6, 15-11, but they certainly showed marked improvement over the loss suffered at the hands of Livingston two weeks ago in which they scored just two points in the entire match.
Except for the third game, Havre kept pace with Livingston every step of the way. It wasn't until Jody Ferguson's kill in the fourth game that gave Livingston the final win that the Ponies were officially out of the match.
"We played extremely well," Whitright said. "They came out and they wanted to play. We played as a unit.... We've been waiting for that all season.
"We wanted to show them we could compete with them, and we knew we could do it. I'm proud of the way they stepped up."
Ranes had a match-high 17 kills, Grant added 13 kills and 14 digs for Havre, and Velk and Hedstrom combined for 35 assists.
Leanne Sudbeck had 12 kills, and Ferguson and Lindsey Lyman had 11 and 10, respectively, to lead the Rangers.