In 2005, the Chinook Sugarbeeters captured the state championship in volleyball — in only their first year in Class C.
Chinook has good teams since, but it’s been a lengthy amount of time since they Beeters have returned to the Class C state tournament. The wait however, is over. Chinook finished second at last weekend’s Northern C volleyball tournament in Conrad, which meant the Beeters earned a trip to the state tourney, which runs Thursday through Saturday in Bozeman.
“We’re excited,” Chinook head coach Kaylee Larson said. “The girls are really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a tough tournament. Anytime you make it this far, the competition gets really tough. But we’re excited to be going.”
It’s been a big season for the Beeters, who are led by 6-2 middle-hitter Makhayla Farmer. The senior standout is averaging an astounding 19 kills and six blocks per match. But Farmer has plenty of talent around her, and that depth has helped the Beeters to a 6C East regular season and tournament championship, as well as a runner-up finish to top-ranked Belt at the Northern C Divisional.
Senior libero Emily Dennis has been instrumental in Chinook’s success, especially at last weekend’s Northern C, where her defense was outstanding in crucial wins over North Star and Simms. Junior Hannah Weber has been consistent all season long as Chinook’s setter, while Katelyn Neibauer, Brooke Nicholson and Madison McCann provide the Beeters with solid offense on the outside.
And Chinook will need all of its weapons to be clicking this weekend. The Beeters open the state tournament against Eastern A champion Wibaux Thursday at 10 a.m. The Longhorns haven’t suffered a loss all season, and they rolled through last weekend’s Eastern C, virtually unchallenged, including a three-game sweep of Bainville in the championship match.
But Wibaux and Chinook aren’t the only powers in this weekend’s tournament. In fact, the Class C field is loaded. If the Beeters get by Wibaux, they would take on either Western C champion Gardiner or Southern C runner-up Bridger. Both of those teams have a combined six losses the entire season, while Gardiner is the defending state champion. Northern C champion Belt is also a heavy favorite this weekend, as the Huskies are unbeaten in 2013. And Southern C champion Winnett-Grass Range has put together a great year, and the Rangers could certainly be a team to watch this weekend.
Chinook's Makhayla Farmer, right, spikes a ball during the 2013 District 6C East tournament last month in Gildford. The Sugarbeeters are playing in this weekend's Class C state tournament, which is being held at Bozeman's Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.
“Wibaux is very good from what I’ve seen,” Larson said. “They’ll be a tough team, but this whole tournament will be tough. We’re ready, but we just have to take it one game at a time, one point at a time.”
Tough competition is nothing new to Chinook, however. The Beeters faced the rigors of the 6C East and the Northern C Divisional, and Larson feels her team is more than ready for what lies ahead this weekend.
“Our goal from the very beginning of the season was to make it to state,” she said. “But as the season went on, we kept raising our expectations. So now that we’ve made it, we’re going to go down there and give it our best, and we’ll see what happens.”
Chinook’s opening round match with Wibaux in the 2013 Class C state tournament starts at 10 a.m. Thursday. If the Beeters advance, they’ll play at 6 p.m. Thursday, and if they fall, they’ll play at 10 a.m. Friday. The Class C state tournament runs Thursday through Saturday at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman.