BOZEMAN — Maggie Taylor is always moving.

As the volleyball bounces around the other side of the net, moving left to right or right to left, Taylor follows with her eyes and her feet.

“You watch the shoulders of the hitters,” said Taylor, a junior libero for Huntley Project. “And you keep up with the speed of the ball.”

With Taylor providing the back wall defense and her teammates delivering on offense, the Red Devils breezed into the state championship match with a 25-8, 25-11, 25-14 win over Joliet in the unbeaten semifinal at the Class B state tournament Friday at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.

It is the eighth year in a row Huntley Project (32-0) will play for the state championship, but the first time since 2013 the Red Devils took the direct route.

“I’ve never won the unbeaten semifinal in my career,” Taylor noted.

Huntley will play the winner of Joliet and Florence from the 11 a.m. third-place match.

The championship match is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

The Southern B has three of the final four teams.

Huntley Project is 5-0 against the J-Hawks this season. Joliet is guaranteed a Class B state trophy for the first time in program history.

The Red Devils will be trying for their 10th state championship and first since 2013.

“We were pretty relaxed. Well, I was nervous, the players weren’t,” Huntley Project coach Iona Stookey said. “Joliet is a great team. We got off to a great start and didn’t let up. We put a good match together.”

Alana Graves led the balanced Red Devils with 11 kills. Ashton Albrecht added eight and Mollee Krum six. Kamille Reynolds also had a handful of timely big kills.

Heidi Cranford had 19 assists, two aces and nine digs. Addy Hultgren added 11 digs and eight assists.

Taylor finished with 16 digs, including going off the court for a big save in the second set.

“She’s good,” Stookey said. “She can read and she just knows the game.”

Taylor provides more than back-row defense.

“Talk. Twenty-four/seven,” she said. “Talk about where the setter is playing and give a pat on the back to a teammate and tell them, ‘Everything is going to be all right.’"

Shayla Webber had 13 digs, eight assists and an ace for Joliet.

Florence 3, Jefferson 2

Their first meeting Thursday to start the state tournament went five sets, so why not the second meeting?

Florence was on the other side Friday night, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to win 21-25, 20-25, 25-16, 25-14, 15-10.

“It kind of stuck with us,” Falcons setter Shay Waldbillig of the Thursday match. “We had a little time to sit and think about it. We wanted to come back fighting and use that as motivation.”

Florence, which was third in 2014, was led by Sarah Hopcroft’s 21 kills. Emma Stensrud had seven blocks and Hudsyn Dibrito had a match-high 31 digs.

“We were more of a team today,” said Waldbillig, who dished out 44 assists. “When someone would make an error, somebody else would make the next play. We had each other’s backs.”

Emily McGinnis led Jefferson with 22 kills. Aubrey McMaster had 34 assists and Hayden Henchel 26 digs.

The Panthers finished fourth.

Florence 3, Three Forks 0

Waldbillig dished out 35 assists as Florence-Carlton rolled to a 25-22 25-22, 25-21 loser-out win over Three Forks.

Waldbillig also had three aces and Sarah Hopcroft had a team-high 14 kills.

Morgan Allen had a team-high 16 kills for Three Forks. Shainy Mack finished with 17 digs, nine kills and nine assists.

Jefferson 3, Shelby 0

The Panthers put down 28 kills, including 14 from McGinnis, to sweep the Coyotes 25-22, 25-16, 25-12 in loser-out action.

McMaster had 21 assists for Jefferson. Simonie Mendenhall had four blocks.

Sydnee Salveson had 13 digs and four kills for Shelby. Brittany Brusven had 13 digs, four kills, nine assists and three aces.

Florence 3, Fairfield 0

Florence-Carlton rode 45 kills to sweep Fairfield 25-14, 25-18, 25-21 in loser-out play.

The Eagles finished 15-12.

Rilee Mangun led Florence-Carlton with 13 kills. Hopcroft and Emma Stensrud each had nine. Waldbillig had 36 assists.

Emily Clotfelter led Fairfield with nine assists and 10 digs. Chesney Rogers had eight blocks for the Eagles.

Shelby 3, Eureka 2

Brook Luly had 17 assists, 18 digs and nine kills to help Shelby outlast Eureka 21-25, 25-22 25-22, 22-25, 15-13 in a tense five-set loser-out thriller.

Bailey Johnson led the Coyotes with 10 kills. Brusven had 21 digs, 16 digs, nine kills and four blocks for the winners.

Kassi Peterson led the Lions with 18 kills and Sienna Utter had 10. Liz Pacella dished 43 assists for Eureka.

Sign up for our high school sports newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Email Joe Kusek at or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJoe

Sports writer at the Billings Gazette

Load comments