HELENA -- Helena Capital hasn’t been pushed much on the volleyball court in 2019, that is until the top-ranked Bruins paid a visit to their crosstown rival, second-ranked Helena High.

The two teams met in their first crosstown matchup of the season and inside the gym at Helena High, the Bruins earned a hard-fought win by the scores of 25-20, 25-27, 25-23 and 25-13.

“Any win is great and in crosstown, it makes it extra special,” Capital coach Rebecca Cleveland said. “We wanted that victory for our team and our seniors. It’s their last chance to play at Helena High and they all contributed. It was a solid team win.”

Paige Bartsch and the Bruins set the tone early, jumping out to a 10-4 lead in the opening set and going up by as many as seven before taking the 1-0 lead.

In the second set, though, the Bengals wouldn’t be denied. Helena High built a 22-17 lead and a following a key kill from Emily Feller as well as a clinching ace from Brooke Ark, Capital dropped set two 27-25.

With the match evened up (1-1), the Bengals had their shot and in the third, Elizabeth Heuiser, who finished with 11 kills, drilled home a point to put Helena in front 17-16. But down the stretch, Bartsch had the answer and nailed an impressive kill to win the third set 25-23 for Capital to avoid a 2-1 hole.

“We started putting our serves in the court,” Cleveland said. “And had some good serve-receive passes. We were able to get those components back into play and gain some momentum.”

In the fourth, it was all about senior Sarah Ashley, who was playing in her final crosstown game at Helena High. Ashley wound up with a match-high 22 kills. She scored a number of key points in the set and helped her team wrap up the win with a 25-13 victory.

“It feels really good,” Ashley said of the win. “These ones are special. Even if you aren’t on your homecourt, you get to play at home and everyone is watching. It really means a lot to us.”

Paige Bartsch also had a stellar effort for the Bruins in the win, notching 15 kills and five blocks. Madi Davis added four blocks and Audrey Hofer was also outstanding with 44 assists and a match-high three aces.

Heuiser had a strong outing for Helena High, totaling 11 kills and eight blocks. Aubrie Christman had six blocks and Ark finished with two aces. Emily Feller had 29 assists and 11 digs. Abby Marcille also pitched in with seven kills.

“Crosstown is always an intense atmosphere,” Helena High head coach Lindsey Day said. “But I thought we were up and down. I saw some really good things and saw some things we have to work on. Capital is a great team and they have a tendency to be able to make teams scramble and they did that to us tonight. Yet, this is a gritty team and they want success. They want to win.”

Both teams will be on the road against Kalispell Flathead and Glacier next Friday and Saturday.

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Chris is the sports editor and lead preps reporter for the Independent Record and 406sports.com. Follow him him on Twitter @cmpetey406

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