HELENA — Whether you are a fan of Helena High or Helena Capital, there was a lot to celebrate last weekend at the All-Class state volleyball tournament in Bozeman.
The Bruins, of course, won their second consecutive state championship and finished off an undefeated season. It was a historic accomplishment by one of the more dominant teams you will see in high school athletics.
I'm not a volleyball expert by any means. But I have covered the sport for more than a decade in the state of Montana and I've yet to see a team as talented or dominant as Helena Capital.
Not only are the Bruins loaded with Division I prospects such as Paige Bartsch (Boise State), Sarah Ashley (Montana), Audrey Hofer (Montana State) and Dani Bartsch in basketball, they have the intangibles needed to be great.
When you watch the Bruins you will see your fair share of spectacular plays, but more than anything, you will see a team with machine-like efficiency.
Capital is always prepared and consistency might be its best attribute.
As impressive as an undefeated state championship is, going all season without a single match going to five sets just underscores the point.
Helena Capital was dominant in 2019 and that's why there is no shame in losing to them.
And after the performance it put together on Friday and Saturday, the Helena High volleyball team has nothing to be ashamed about.
After losing a 2-0 lead in the opening round against Billings Senior and dropping the match 3-2, the Bengals went on an incredible four-match winning streak that included their 2-0 rally against Billings West last Friday.
When it was all said and done, the Bengals defeated Butte, Billings West, Bozeman and CMR, in succession, winning nine of 10 sets at one point, to advance to the state championship match.
Helena High's run came a little short as the Bengals lost to Helena Capital. But just being the state runner-up was a tremendous achievement.
The two teams got a play in an all-Helena final and afterward, as a sign of respect, they posed for a photo together, with their trophies.
It was fitting because both teams should be celebrated. The Bruins for their greatness and the Bengals, for their guts, as well as their determination.
Helena High didn't win the state title, but it still did something memorable, something that won't be forgotten for a long time.
And speaking of great moments, the Helena High cheerleaders were responsible for their own with a simple act of kindness.
With the Class AA and Class C courts next to each other in Bozeman, the Bengals cheerleaders eventually came upon Fort Benton, which had just one cheerleader in attendance.
The Longhorns normally have three, but two were at a playoff football game, leaving Fort Benton's Allie Wallace to lead her school's cheering section by herself.
Throughout the tournament, Wallace became a bit of a phenomenon. More and more people started asking her about cheering alone and each offered encouragement.
I know, because covering the Class C tournament, I was a bystander for many of these conversations.
The Fort Benton crowd was loud and supportive, as were the others. But the Helena High cheerleaders, they took it to another level.
After watching closely in the stands for a few minutes, leading up to a big match for the Bengal volleyball team on the next court, the cheerleaders asked Wallace if they could join them and suddenly, it wasn't just a cheerleader, it was a cheer team.
It was easy to see it meant something to Wallace, who smiled ear-to-ear.
But to me, it was a reminder of why we love sports.
It's not the wins and losses -- it's everything else in between.
Those are the things that make us proud and whether it's sportsmanship, excellence or just plain kindness, Helena had plenty to be proud of at state volleyball.