The state volleyball championships concluded last weekend without Jefferson High, which saw its undefeated streak end at the South Divisional tournament.
Instead, it was Joliet that took home the Class B crown, its first ever. Joliet took down Huntley Project in the finals, 25-18, 25-21, 25-17, after defeating Fairfield, Colstrip, and then Huntley Project in the semis.
The South has dominated Class B volleyball for years — and this year, southern schools took first (Joliet), second (Huntley Project), and fourth (Colstrip). Joliet and Huntley Project enjoyed an especially fierce rivalry: They played nine times this fall, with Joliet winning four. Joliet edged Huntley Project in their District final, and Huntley Project took Joliet in the Divisional tournament before Joliet finally prevailed at State.
Helena’s Capital High School won its third consecutive state championship in Class AA, capping an undefeated season. C.M. Russell High of Great Falls came into the final match undefeated and gave Capital a five-set battle, 25-20, 22-25, 21-25, 25-21, 8-15.
Billings Central took the Class A title, defeating Columbia Falls for its third championship in the last four years. And Bridger overcame Manhattan Christian for the Class C crown; a year ago, Manhattan beat Bridger for the title.
In high school football, Laurel shut out Billings Central for the Class A title, 27-0, It was Laurel’s first football State crown in the last 18 years. Froid-Medicine Lake defeated White Sulphur Springs 44-19 for the six-man championship, its first in program history.
In Class B, Manhattan continued to play well in defeating Glasgow, 43-18, while Fairfield defeated Florence-Carlton in overtime, 8-6. Manhattan, which has put up 145 points in the playoffs while giving up just 18, will travel to Fairfield for the championship game this Saturday.
Back at home, the Panthers girls and boys basketball and wrestling will have a quiet few weeks before starting practices December 7. The first games are scheduled for January 2.