BOZEMAN – Give her credit, Morgan Cooper is honest.

When Ennis and Scobey played each other Thursday in the first round of the Class C state volleyball tournament, Cooper and her teammates had a rooting interest.

“We wanted Ennis to win,” the Belt senior said. “We wanted another shot at them.”

The Huskies got their wish, facing the defending Class C state champions in the second round later Thursday night.

And in a turnaround from last year’s state title match, Belt prevailed 25-21, 19-25, 17-25, 25-13, 17-15.

The Huskies will play Simms in the 6 p.m. unbeaten semifinal Friday. It will be the fourth meeting of the two teams. Belt defeated the Tigers for the Northern C championship last weekend.

The Huskies trailed 13-8 in the thrilling fifth set but rallied. Abby Gliko’s serving got Belt back into contention.

“It wasn’t the first time we’ve done this,” said Cooper, who finished with 10 kills and 28 digs. “We’ve been down like this before.

“We needed to play our game. Put up the block, get a good pass and put the ball down. Capitalize on our chances. I’m super excited we came back after being down a set.”

Kyelie Marquis had 21 kills and 29 digs. Gliko finished with 17 kills and Adelle Meissner had 28 digs. Kolby Pimperton finished with 49 assists.

Ennis did not provide any team or individual statistics. 

Simms 3, Manhattan Christian 1

Lissy Willekes had a simple instruction for her teammate Maddie Bloom.

“I want the ball,” Willekes told the Simms setter.

Bloom delivered and Willekes finished.

Willekes put down a match-high 25 kills as Simms knocked off its second No. 1 seed of the day, defeating Manhattan Christian in a 25-16, 21-25, 25-16, 27-25 thriller in the second round.

“Wow, it’s incredible,” Willekes said of the momentum-changing win.

The Tigers advance to Friday’s 6 p.m. unbeaten semifinal, where they play Belt, last year's runnerup.

“I hit the ball hard,” Willekes said of her reasoning. “When you go after it hard, nine times out of 10 you’re going to get the point or the other team will make a mistake.”

The Eagles were the No. 1 seed from the Western Division. Simms started its state tournament with a win over Bridger, the No. 1 seed from the Southern Division.

Bloom finished with 46 assists. Draylen Sawyer and Janessa Willekes had 10 kills apiece. Janessa Willekes also had four of the Tigers’ seven aces.

“We tried to get up a block on them,” Willekes said of the taller Eagles. “And our defense stayed on our toes.”

Kellie Van Kirk led Manhattan Christian with 14 kills and Taylor Devries had 14 assists.

Simms 3, Bridger 2

In an evenly played match, Simms proved to be a tick better than Bridger.

The Tigers prevailed over the Scouts 25-23, 13-25, 25-19, 12-25, 15-8 in the first round.

“We played OK,” retiring Bridger coach Wayne Moorman said. “It wasn’t anything we did wrong. They played a little better. Hats off to Simms. They came to play and they played well.”

Lissy Willekes led the Tigers with 15 kills and sister Janessa added seven. Lissy Willekes also had five blocks, and Janessa had four.

Maddie Bloom had 28 assists, four digs and three aces for Simms.

Emily Adkins (22) and Sami Fusco (19) combined for 41 of the Scouts’ 44 kill. Emily Adkins added 13 digs and five aces, and Kyra Kroll had 15 digs.

Manhattan Christian 3, Plentywood 2

When the Plentywood Wildcats looked across the net, they had to tilt their heads slightly upward.

“We haven’t seen blockers like that before,” Plentywood coach Becky Kukowski said of the Eagles’ size across the front. “They are long and have control.”

Manhattan Christian used that size advantage to fight off the Wildcats 25-11, 17-25, 26-24, 21-25, 15-9.

The Eagles have three players listed 6 feet tall or taller.

Ellie Kuperus led Manhattan Christian with 11 kills. Taylor Devries and Kiersten Van Kirk each had 15 assists. Kellie Van Kirk added 15 digs and seven aces.

Freshman Liv Wangerin led Plentywood with a match-high 17 kills. Brenna Osksa had 14 assists and four blocks. Wangerin also had 12 digs.

Belt 3, Hobson-Moore-Judith Gap 1

A balanced offense carried Belt to a 25-21, 25-15, 22-25, 25-15 first-round victory.

Kyelie Marquis led the Huskies with 15 kills. Morgan Cooper and Abby Gliko each had 14. Cooper and Marquis also had 24 digs apiece, and Adelle Meissner had 34.

Kolby Pimperton finished with 40 assists.

Brianna Bergum had eight kills and 13 digs for the Titans. Josilyn Kriskovich had 17 assists.

Ennis 3, Scobey 1

Jourdain Klein put down a tournament-high 29 kills to lead the defending state champions past the Spartans 25-18, 18-25, 25-20, 25-14.

Klein, the Class C state high jump runnerup, also had five blocks and two aces.

Whitney McKitrick added 26 assists, eight digs, two blocks and two aces for the Mustangs.

Kylee Cook had 11 kills for Scobey, the No. 1 team out of the East. Kortney Nelson had 10 kills and 14 digs. ShaAnn Danelson added 11 assists and 11 digs.

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Email Joe Kusek at joe.kusek@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJoe

Sports writer at the Billings Gazette

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