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The Jefferson High School varsity volleyball team earned the title of District 5B Champions last week. The team moves on to Divisionals this week in Red Lodge after completing an undefeated regular season.  Pictured, back row, left to right: Coach Mike Majors, Manager Olivia Lyon, Rachel Van Blaricom, Sam Zody, Grace Alexander, Abby Youde, Maddy Johnson, Hope Dobyns, Maddy Leiva, Sydney Mace, Kera Averill and Coach Danielle Bullock. Front row, from left to right: Dakota Edmisten, Brooklyn Pancoast, Emma McCauley, Kadence Lingle, Bailey Toney and Manager Grace Leiva (Not pictured: Coach Lindsey Williams)  (Photo by Rose Johnson)

On to Divisionals! Jefferson High’s volleyball swept through the District 5B tournament without losing a set, preserving their perfect record and qualifying for the Southern Division tournament in Red Lodge starting Thursday.

Top-seeded Jefferson got a first-round bye and met Manhattan in Thursday’s semifinal. The last time these teams met, Manhattan gave the Panthers their toughest match of the season, a five-set test of endurance.

This time, not so much. In the first set, a block by Brooklyn Pancoast followed by a kill by Dakota Edmisten put the Panthers up 3-1; a tap by Rachel Van Blaricom made it 10-6; and another block point by Pancoast took it to 14-8. The Panthers outscored the Tigers 11-1 the rest of the way to take a 25-9 win. 

The teams stayed close in the early going of the second set, tying five times with a pair of aces by Sidney Mace knotting the score at 8, and another giving the Panthers a 11-8 lead that they would not relinquish. Mace’s fourth ace of the set made it 14-8, an ace by Sam Zody put the Panthers up 23-14, and a hammer kill by Edmisten ended game two, 25-16. 

Determined not to let up, the Panthers started the third with a 8-1 run, and a block by Hope Dobyns after an unbelievable dig by Grace Alexander made it 10-2. Edmisten continued to power over kills that I would not want to have coming at me, and the Panthers advanced to Friday’s championship match with a 25-16 win.

Teams are trying to keep serves away from Alexander, but she still came up with 12 digs. Van Blaricom had 13 digs, one ace, 3 kills, and one block; Maddie Leiva, 13 assists and 5 digs; Dobyns, one kill and 2 blocks; Edministen, 18 kills, one block, and 9 digs; Zody, 2 aces, one kill, 6 assists, and 21 digs; Emma McCauley, one assist and one dig; Maddy Johnson, one dig; Abbie Youde, one kill; Mace, 4 aces and one dig; and Pancoast, 2 kills and 3 blocks. 

On Friday night, Broadwater visited “Pantherville” for the championship match. The Bulldogs’ only regular season league losses were to the Panthers, and they gave Jefferson another test. The Bulldogs opened with 13-8 run, but a time out by Coach Majors turned the match around: Edmisten slammed over four hard kills and put over a tap for a 15-14; a Dobyns kill made it 16-14; and points by Edmisten, Van Blaricom and Zody made it 23-18. The Bulldogs weren’t ready to give up yet: They put over four straight points to pull to 24-23. But a hard kill by Edmisten ended the game. 

Jefferson began the second set with a 11-4 run, and a pair of kills by Van Blaricom put the Panthers up 16-9. The bulldogs gradually worked their way back back into the set, pulled to within two, 21-19. But a kill by Dobyns and a block by Pancoast made it 24-19, and Van Blaricom finished things with a kill for a 25-21 win. The third set went to the Panthers, as well, 25-20 — and that was it: Division champs. A great match to watch; high school sports just does not get any better.

Edmisten continued her powerful  play with 29 kills, one ace, one block, one assist, and 10 digs. Alexander had 39 digs and one kill; Van Blaricom, 10 kills and 11 digs; Leiva, 22 assists and 7 digs; Dobyns, one kill and 2 blocks; Zody, 2 kills, 16 assists, and 21 digs; McCauley, one assist and 5 digs; Johnson, one assist and 3 digs; Mace, one dig; and Pancoast, 2 blocks, one assist, and 4 digs.

The Panthers will meet Roundup at 4 p.m. Thursday in their first Divisional match. (Unfortunately COVID-19 limits the amount of fans that can attend.) Roundup took third in 4B behind Joliet and Huntley Project. Whitehall beat Manhattan for third and will join Jefferson and Broadwater in Red Lodge. The top three teams from Divisional qualify for State; it’s not certain yet where that will be played. 

In Class B football playoffs, the South Division made a clean sweep of the East. Columbus defeated Red Lodge, 16-10; Manhattan demolished Colstrip, 52-0; Whitehall won a defensive battle over Shepherd, 6-2; and Broadwater had no trouble beating Huntley Project 42-14. 

The North won three of their four games over the West: Glasgow defeated Eureka; 28-6; Malta bested Big Fork, 30-14; and Fairfield shut out Missoula Loyola, 28-0. Florence-Carlton was the only West team to win, 27-8 over Conrad. In the quarterfinals, Columbus plays at Glasgow, Malta is at Manhattan, Whitehall is at Fairfield, and Broadwater travels to Florence-Carlton.  

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