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High School volleyball's postseason extravaganza begins

District 6C East tournament will be a barn burner in Chinook

 

October 30, 2019

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Delaney Kellam, right, and the Chinook Sugarbeeters are the No. 1 seed at this weekend's District 6C East volleyball tournament, but the likes of North Star, Chester-Joplin-Inverness and Box Elder are also battling for top spots. The 6C East tournament runs Thursday and Friday in Chinook.

The 2019 high school volleyball season has come down to the next three weeks. However, for a host of area teams, there can't be a next week if they don't perform this week.

That's certainly the case in the District 6C East, where Chinook, North Star, Chester-Joplin-Inverness, Box Elder, Big Sandy and Hays-Lodge Pole will all battle to keep their season going this weekend.

The 2019 District 6C East Tournament will play out Thursday and Friday inside the Chinook High School gymnasium, and the Sugarbeeters, under veteran head coach Paula Molyneaux, will be the top seed and favorite to claim the 6C East title.

The Sugarbeeters (12-2), finished the regular season with just one loss in district play, and thanks to the stellar front-court play of Delaney Kellam, as well as the leadership of setter Ginger Hauer, Chinook has been a pillar of strength on the court all season long.

And having home court advantage this week certainly won't hurt the Beeters chances of winning another 6C East title. But the North Star Knights certainly have something to say about that.

The Knights (12-2) just pushed the Beeters to five sets last week. North Star can also counter Chinook at nearly every position, with experienced standouts like Shayla Borlaug and Kenidee Wolery, along with talents like Jade Wendland and Saige O'Neil. North Star, like Chinook, also has depth and talent at the net, so, in essence, the Beeters and Knights are two very similar teams, and that's why they're the top two seeds in this week's tournament.

The tournament gets underway Thursday morning at 9 a.m. when fourth-seeded Box Elder (5-11), meets fifth-seeded Big Sandy (3-10) in a first-round match. The winner of that match will take on the Sugarbeeters in a quarterfinal match Thursday afternoon.

Box Elder swept Big Sandy during the regular season, and the Bears have been a tough opponent all season long. Sarah Parisian, and Mia and Zayna Henderson are all talented performers for the Bears, who, are aiming to make more noise at the 6C East, just like they did a year ago. Big Sandy will lean on veteran Lainey Gregory, as the Pioneers try and pull off an upset or two this weekend.

Following the Box Elder/Big Sandy match, third-seeded CJI (9-4) will take on sixth-seeded HLP (0-11) in the second first-round match. The winner of that match will advance to take on North Star Thursday afternoon.

The Hawks have been climbing all season long and may be the team peaking the most as the district tourney arrives. Sophomore Tatum Hull is a dominant all-around player for the Hawks, but Samantha May, Averie Mattson and other's give CJI a team that has a lot of confidence heading into the postseason. CJI is also the only team in he district with a win over Chinook this season. Meanwhile, HLP has had another tough season on the court. The Thunderbirds went winless in district play and winless over the course of the season. But, as they always do, they'll play hard.

Of course, playing hard isn't an issue for any team in this week's tourney, because on the line are three spots in next week's Northern C Divisional Tournament. After Thursday's quarterfinal matches, the winner's bracket semifinal will tip at 7 p.m. and wrap up the first day.

The tournament resumes Friday morning with two loser-out matches. The winners of those two matches will advance to the fourth-place match, while the winner of that match will move to the consolation match against the loser of Thursday's semifinal. The winner of the consolation match will advance to the championship, which is slated for Friday evening, with an if-necessary match scheduled to take place 30 minutes after the conclusion of the chipper.

The top three teams from the 6C East will join the top teams from the 6C West and the 7C at next week's divisional tournament. The 6C West tourney is being played out this weekend in Augusta, where Simms, Power and Valier are all top teams in the field. The 7C tournament is being held in Fort Benton, where the host Longhorns, and Northern C powerhouse Belt, are the two heavy favorites.

All of those who advance to the Northern C Divisional will meet next weekend in Cascade, where the top two teams from the Northern C move on to the Class C state tournament Nov. 14-16 in Bozeman.

Also looking to advance past this weekend are the Harlem Wildcats and Rocky Boy Morning Stars.

Harlem will battle at the 2B district tournament in Glasgow, and after finishing in a tie for second in the 2B race this season, the Wildcats are looking to have one of their best postseason's in years. Harlem's deep and talented team, led by head coach Kim Faulkinberry, should move on from the 2B, along with Glasgow and Wolf Point, to next week's Northern B in Wolf Point. The top four teams from the 2B, as well as the top four from the 1B, who are playing this weekend in Choteau, advance to the Northern B, where the top two teams from there move on to the Class B state tournament Nov. 14-16 in Bozeman.

 

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