While they came up a little short of winning a state championship, it was a another record-setting season for Belgrade’s volleyball team.
The Panthers finished as the state runner up Nov. 10 in their final season in Class A. The school moves to AA beginning next fall and the program is expected to fare very well.
Belgrade boasted victories against three teams that competed in the AA state tournament this season, including Billings West and Bozeman, which placed third and second, respectively.
Belgrade finished with 30 victories, which is believed to be a school record, and lost just 18 sets all season.
“Thirty wins in season is mind boggling to me,” Panthers coach Jade Schmidt said. “Having recorded six wins in seven matches against AA competition is extremely motivating for us going into next year.”
Belgrade was well represented when the Central A conference honors were released. Leading the way was senior Bailey Christensen, who became the first four-time All-State selection in school history.
Christensen will graduate as the program’s all-time leader in seven categories and ranks in the top10 in four categories in the Montana High School Association record book.
The outside hitter set records for:
• Career kills, 1,856 (3rd MHSA)
• Kills in a 3-set match, 25
• Kills in a 4-set match, 27
• Kills in a 5-set match, 30 (10th, MHSA)
• Single season kills, 547 (8th, MHSA)
• Career aces, 277 (9th MHSA)
• Single-season aces, 104
Younger sister Taylor has also piled up the records en route to earning All-State honors. The junior libero has become the program’s all-time leader in digs with 1,811. That ranks second (2,074) all-time in the MHSA record book.
Taylor Christensen also holds school records for digs in a 3-set match (33), digs in a 5-set match (45), and single-season digs (639), which ranks fourth overall in the MHSA record book.
Senior setter Jaiden Blakely, a first-team all-conference selection, broke the school record for career assists with 1,955 and tied the mark for assists in a 3-set match with 36.
“For the records, it is just an incredible accomplishment and a true testament to the work ethic and dedication those three individuals have put into improving themselves and their game over the last several years,” said Schmidt. “As hard as this weekend’s result is to swallow, what this team accomplished on the court is pretty unbelievable.”
Seniors Olivia Cook and McKenna Carlson received first team and second team all-conference honors, respectively.
“It will be a whole different beast with the loss of this senior class,” said Schmidt. “But I feel our coaching staff has prepared the younger teams well to step into the spotlight after waiting for years behind what is arguably the most talented group to graduate from Belgrade High.”
Bailey Christensen, Belgrade; Taylor Christensen, Belgrade; Anna Zimmer, Fergus; Cassidy Acor, Havre; Olivia Cook, Belgrade.
First Team All-Conference
Bailey Christensen, Belgrade; Taylor Christensen, Belgrade; Anna Zimmer, Fergus; Cassidy Acor, Havre; Olivia Cook, Belgrade; Jaiden Blakely, Belgrade.
Second Team All-Conference
Sam Oliver, Havre; Jessa Chvilicek, Havre; McKenna Carlson, Belgrade; Skye Ingram, Park; Abby Kokot, Park; Becca Bawden, Fergus.
Honorable Mention All-Conference
Kadyn Acor - Havre
Coach of the Year
Tamecia Jarvis - Havre