With the District 6C East tournament now in the rearview mirror, two Hi-Line volleyball teams are still standing.
Starting Thursday in Belt, the 6C East champion North Star Knights and runner-up Big Sandy Pioneers will begin their quest to reach th
e pinnacle of Montana prep volleyball – the 2012 Class C state tournament in Bozeman.
The Knights and Pioneers open play at the Northern C Divisional tournament, which runs Thursday-Saturday at Belt High School.
North Star defeated Big Sandy three times in two says at the 6C East tourney last week in Chinook, and the Knights are riding high coming into the divisional tournament. North Star opens with the third see from the District 7C, perhaps the deepest district in Class C volleyball. But the Knights won’t be intimidated as they are playing their best volleyball when it matters most.
North Star is led by Lisa and Bettie Carlon, but Melissa Pester is coming off a huge 6C East tourney, while Tylynn Rettig and Delainey Spicher are also playing very well.
Meanwhile, the Pioneers suffered heartache last week in Chinook, but Big Sandy gets a chance to start all over in Belt. The Pioneers open the divisional tournament against Sunburst, the 6C West champion. The Refiners will be a tough first-round opponent for Big Sandy, but the Pioneers have the weapons to go far this weekend. At the net, Kaylie Gilman and Molly Herron are tall and athletic, while Brooke Leader is an outstanding setter. All-around athletes like Leela Engle, Shelby Gasvoda and Shayna Gilead give Big Sandy depth that many other Class C teams just don’t have.
But as good as both the Knights and Pioneers are playing right now, there are only two state tourney spots up for grabs in Belt, and the Northern C is traditionally the most difficult of the four Class C divisional tournaments.
The Belt Huskies certainly come in as the favorite this weekend. The Huskies have won three straight 7C titles finished fourth at state a year ago. The Refiners and 6C West runner-up Simms are also teams to be reckoned with this weekend, as is Geraldine and Highwood. So make no mistake, this weekend’s tournament will be an old-fashioned dogfight in Belt.
The Northern C Divisional volleyball tournament gets underway at 9 a.m. Thursday when North Star takes the floor. Big Sandy faces Sunburst at 12 p.m. The tournament runs through Saturday night, with the top two teams advancing to next week’s Class C state tourney in Bozeman. For complete coverage of the Knights and Pioneers at the Northern C, see next Tuesday's Havre Daily.