The Corvallis Blue Devils added one more trophy to the case over the weekend with the addition of the 2013 Montana State Class A volleyball championship trophy. This is the first time the Blue Devils have won the championship and they capped it off in fine style. The Blue Devils never lost a match all year and finished with an astounding 21-0 record.
It is an expectation to have challenges at the state tournament, after all this is the best of the best and it is a measure of the composure of this Corvallis team how they handled the pressure. Coach Kasey Arceniega said that their first game was a huge challenge for her team.
Corvallis opened against Belgrade and quickly went down two sets in the five set match. But the girls in blue and white regained their composure and came back to win the next three sets and the match. Kelsey Irwin and Joanna Avery pounded down a combined 30 kills and Avery had six blocks.
Corvallis def. Belgrade 21-25, 26-28, 25-18, 25-10, 15-10.
Kills – Corvallis 54 (Kelsey Irwin 16, Joanna Avery 14), Belgrade 53 (Taylor Wolman 17, Madi Page 11). Blocks – Corvallis 13 (Joanna Avery 6), Belgrade 7 (Olivia Kleinsasser 4). Digs – Corvallis 105 (Laura Berner 35), Belgrade 90 (Kyra Fisher 31). Assists – Corvallis 54 (Alex Price 27, Berner 14), Belgrade 39 (Kleinsasser 37). Aces – Corvallis 6 (Katie Patterson 2), Belgrade 6 (Woolman 4).
The road to the championship wasn’t getting any easier though. As with almost any Class A sport in Montana, they had to take on Billings Central. The always-tough school didn’t ease up against Corvallis and took the battle right to the Blue Devils. The match was tough from the start. Although Corvallis won the first set, they had to score 31 points to do so. Billings Central came back to win the second set but then Corvallis pulled out a win. The pendulum swung back to Billings Central in the fourth set but Corvallis won the fifth set and the match. Avery at 6’ and junior Jane Booth, who is 6’2”, blocked nine Billings Central balls and kept the Blue Devils in the game.
“Jane came off the bench and was a huge help,” said Arceniega. “She got in a few blocks right away and changed their hitting.”
Lea Roehl also came in off the bench and swatted down a couple of crucial kills to swing the momentum back to the Blue Devils. Arceniega said that everyone did what they were supposed to do from the starters on down to those on the bench.
“After that second match, some of the players were in tears because they had worked so hard.”
Corvallis def. Billings Central 31-29, 21-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-12.
Kills – Central 61 (Justyn Juhl 24, Elie Hanser 13, Casey Tehle 10), Corvallis 56 (Kelsey Irwin 15, Joanna Avery 11, Chantel Jessop 11). Blocks – Central 14 (Jenny Garber 5, Juhl 4), Corvallis 16 (Joanna Avery 5, Jane Booth 4). Digs – Central V151 (Erika Kuhn 35, Mirrada Clarin 33), Corvallis 132 (Irwin 38, Katie Patterson 30). Assists – Central 47 (Baylee Hadley 45), Corvallis 50 (Alex Price 44). Aces – Central 8 (Tehle 4, Hadley 3), Corvallis 8 (Laura Berner 3).
The win over Billings Central pushed Corvallis into the undefeated match on Friday night. That gave the team all of Friday to recoup and gather their composure. They needed it all because they were up against the Golden Eagles of Fergus County (Lewistown). Lewistown was the No. 1 seed from the Central A and defeated Beaverhead County and Columbia Falls to get to the undefeated game. Arceniega describes the team as ‘incredibly consistent’ in their play. In addition, Corvallis was hit with some officiating calls that threw them off their rhythm. “There were some carries and some doubles calls that were frustrating for us. The girls really needed to stay poised and focus moment by moment, and they did.”
The first set was close but Corvallis took the set, and the second. But Lewistown came back and won the third set. Corvallis didn’t let that get to them and came back for a win in the fourth set and advanced to the championship match. Katie Patterson and Alex Price each had 22 digs in their defensive battles. Patterson also had a pair of aces.
Corvallis def. Lewistown, 25-23, 25-19, 17-25, 25-23.
Kills – Corvallis 47 (Joanna Avery 15), Lewistown 44 (Michelle Monger 12). Blocks – Corvallis 7 (Jane Booth 3), Lewistown 10 (Jaree Mane 4.5). Digs – Corvallis 95 (Katie Patterson 22, Alex Price 22), Lewistown 95 (Maddies Comes 18). Assists – Corvallis 35 (Price 23), Lewistown 41 (Comes 40). Aces – Corvallis 6 (Patterson 2), Lewistown 5 (Comes 2).
Lewistown had to play Billings Central in loser out action at 11a.m. on Saturday morning. After defeating the Rams, Lewistown then came back to play Corvallis for the championship at 1p.m. Arceniega said her team was confident going into the championship match and never let nerves get to them. Even though the Blue Devils lost the first set, 25-27, they maintained their composure and worked together as a team. The atmosphere, which can be a big distraction for many teams, was something that Arceniega had prepared the team for, and since this was their third trip to the Brick Breeden Field House in Bozeman, she felt they handled that very well.
Corvallis won the championship match in four sets. Irwin had 19 kills and three aces.
Corvallis def. Lewistown, 25-27, 25-18, 25-22, 25-17.
Kills – Lewistown 49 (Mikaela Olson 18), Corvallis 56 (Kelsey Irwin 19). Blocks – Lewistown 5 (Michelle Monger 2, Maddi Comes 2), Corvallis 12 (Joanna Avery 4). Digs – Lewistown 113 (Jaree Mane 22), Corvallis 121 (Katie Patterson 28). Assists – Lewistown 42 (Maddi Comes 40), Corvallis 44 (Alex Price 39). Aces – Lewistown 4 (Olson 2), Corvallis 8 (Irwin 3).
“They did what they were supposed to do,” concluded Arceniega, “and that won them the championship.”