Belgrade's players celebrate after sweeping Billings Senior Thursday night.

It’s taken much of the season, but Belgrade’s volleyball team is finally starting to find their footing in Class AA.

The Panthers used a balanced attack Thursday night to notch their second AA victory of the season. Hazel Eaton, Tessa Lamb and Maddie Tomasetti combined for 22 of the team’s 28 kills in a 25-22, 25-23, 25-17 Eastern AA victory against Billings Senior.

“We looked confident. We looked like we belonged there,” first-year Belgrade coach Jessica Christensen said. “There was a different build to them tonight.”

Tipping Point

Belgrade's Tessa Lamb tips the ball over the night Thursday night against Billings Senior.

While the Panthers lost a three-set match to Bozeman Oct. 19, it was one of their best performances of the season. And, the team rode that momentum into the Belgrade Special Events Center against Senior.

“Our confidence has grown in the last couple weeks,” said Christensen. “I even felt like when we played Bozeman last week that it was different. I don’t know why. Maybe it just took that long in the season for us to really see that we can compete in double A.”

Belgrade (5-14, 2-8 Eastern AA) fell behind in both of the first two sets, but battled back to win much to the delight of Christensen.

“We were good and then bad at times, but fought through those bad times like we haven’t in the past,” Christensen said. “We were down four, five, six points in both the first and second sets and we fought through those lows though and finished off those sets fairly easily.”

There were some breakdowns along the back row that allowed the Broncs to surge into the lead, Christensen noted. But the Panthers remained composed and managed to rally in those early sets.

Eaton Attacks

Belgrade senior Hazel Eaton goes up for an attack Thursday against Billings Senior.

“Our serve-receive struggled at little bit at times and that’s where we got to be behind by four or five points,” said Christensen. “Other than that — everyone did their job. We did a good job everywhere.”

Christensen noted that the Panthers “took care of business in the third set” en route to capping the sweep.

Eaton finished with a team-high eight kills, eight digs and three aces, while Lamb and Tomasetti each had seven kills. Tycelee Bowler chipped in with 17 digs, while Delanee Hicks had 22 assists and a pair of aces.

“Delanee Hicks played great defense tonight," said Christensen. "Did a great job getting to balls, getting to the second ball.”

Senior (11-13, 5-5 Eastern AA) was led by Olivia LaBeau and Kara Pospisil, who combined for 19 kills.

Belgrade returns to action Saturday afternoon hosting Billings Skyview.

Wolves’ rally falls short in loss to Whitehall

After dropping the first two sets Thursday night, Three Forks made a furious comeback in Whitehall. But it came up just a little short in a 22-25, 18-25, 25-14, 25-18, 15-17 District 5B loss.

It was the third consecutive loss for the Wolves.

“Whitehall has drastically improved,” Three Forks coach Tracy Welter said. “We have our work cut out for us next week.”

Senior Erin Welter led the Wolves’ attack with nine kills, 14 digs and three blocks, while Breanna Bloch had eight kills and three aces.

On Saturday, Three Forks wrapped up the regular season on a high note by defeating Big Timber 25-17, 25-19, 16-25, 16-25, 15-11 on senior-parent night.

“Played great the first two,” noted coach Welter. “Fell apart next two and then rallied back.”

Erin Welter and Bloch combined for 11 kills in the victory, while McKenzie Feddes and Erin Welter each had 13 digs.

The Wolves return to action at the two-day district tournament, which begins Thursday in Belgrade. Three Forks finished as the No. 5 seed and will play Whitehall in a first round match.

Belgrade def. Billings Senior 25-22, 25-23, 25-17.

BILLINGS SENIOR (11-13) - Kills: 30 (Olivia LaBeau 12, Kara Pospisil 7). Digs: 56 (Hailey George 20). Blocks: 8 (Bailey King 4). Aces: 7 (George 3). Assists: 17 (Jensen Keller 16).

BELGRADE (5-14) - Kills: 28 (Hazel Eaton 8, Tessa Lamb 7, Maddie Tomasetti 7). Digs: 48 (Tycelee Bowler 17). Blocks: 6 (Tomasetti 3). Aces: 6 (Eaton 3). Assists: 24 (Delanee Hicks 22).

Whitehall def. Three Forks 25-22, 25-18, 14-25, 18-25, 17-15.

THREE FORKS (5-8) - Kills: 34 (Erin Welter 9, Breanna Bloch 8). Digs: 96 (McKenzie Feddes 20, Kirstin Klompien 15). Blocks: 11 (Klompien 4). Aces: 12 (Bloch 3, Feddes 3). Assists: 30 (Savannah Jensen 14).

WHITEHALL - Stats not provided.

Three Forks def. Big Timber 25-17, 25-19, 16-25, 16-25, 15-11.

BIG TIMBER (0-12) - Kills: 30 (Alyssa Boshart 10). Digs: 98 (Jillian Whalin 7). Blocks: 5 (Jolie Wood 2). Aces: 13 (Wood 5). Assists: 26 (Wood 25).

THREE FORKS (6-8) -  Kills: 31 (Erin Welter 6, Breanna Bloch 5). Digs: 73 (McKenzie Feddes 13, Welter 13). Blocks: 7 (Keaton Lynn 4). Aces: 6 (Feddes 2). Assists: 25 (Peyton Page 13).