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Considering regular season records only, Bozeman was the third-best team in the state all season.

The Hawks trailed only fellow Eastern AA teams Great Falls CMR and Billings West in wins but still compiled a better record than that of the Western AA’s top team, Missoula Sentinel.

On Friday afternoon, as both Bozeman and the Spartans fought to keep their seasons alive, Sentinel proved itself worthy of its top seed.

The Hawks (24-7) fought back after losing the first set of a loser-out match but ultimately lost in five sets at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, ending their season.

“I think that was anyone’s game,” Bozeman head coach Jeni Anderson said. “They’re No. 1 in the west for a reason. We’ve been No. 3 in the east for a reason. It was going to be a good game, it was going to be a fight, and they came out on top.”

Sentinel (21-6) won by set scores of 25-18, 22-25, 16-25, 25-21, 15-12.

“I think we had enough opportunities,” Anderson said of accomplishing more in the tournament, “but we just didn’t capitalize on it.”

Bozeman took a 2-1 set lead after dropping the opener. The Hawks allowed short runs of points but never debilitating ones. They were largely competitive throughout.

Even still, Bozeman’s season came to a close with the players feeling like they didn’t play to their standards.

“We might have been in it, but we weren’t playing to our potential,” senior Jenavieve Lynch said. “I think at state you have to show up, and I don’t think we showed up today.”

Lynch did a little bit of everything for Bozeman, putting together a double-double with 15 kills and 13 digs to go with four blocks and a pair of aces. The Hawks’ offense as a whole was well-rounded, with Bria Isley and Carissa Stratman contributing 11 and seven kills, respectively.

Sentinel’s Quincy Frohlich led her team with 22 kills and five blocks. At 6-foot-1, she contributed to the Spartans’ all-around stingy defense.

“They are super good at blocking,” Lynch said. “And their libero (Raia Chase) is an awesome libero. She gets everything up. We just couldn’t put the ball down.”

Chase collected 19 digs and added four service aces for Sentinel.

Bozeman got off to a good start in the first set, taking a 13-6 lead on a kill by Kacelyn Kinney. The Spartans then ripped off a 9-0 run to go ahead, taking advantage of several Bozeman attack errors. Sentinel kept that momentum and closed the set with a pair of aces.

The teams battled all the way through the second set, eventually reaching a 22-22 tie after a Lynch kill. Lynch put the ball down again for a 23-22 edge, and Sentinel was whistled for a rotation violation and a lift to give the final two points to the Hawks.

Bozeman took an early lead in the third set and never gave it up. A sequence that included a Lynch kill, a Stratman ace, an Isely kill and a block from Isley and Avery Burkhart forced a Sentinel timeout. The Hawks kept the pressure on, winning the set finally on a block by Burkhart and Lynch.

Kinney and Burkhart led Bozeman with seven and six blocks, respectively. Stratman added four.

The fourth set mirrored the second set — competitive right to the end. Sentinel finally went ahead for good at 21-20 following a double-touch penalty on Bozeman’s side.

In the decisive set, Bozeman trailed 11-9 but benefited from a pair of attack errors to tie it. Sentinel closed on a 4-1 run, however, fueled by three kills from Frohlich.

“They played significantly better today,” Anderson said, comparing the performance with a win versus Kalispell Flathead and a loss to Great Falls CMR on Thursday. “I felt they played more in tune with each other, more together. We had breakdowns here and there in communication, but that stuff happens. They powered through most of it, just not enough.”

The Hawks lose only two seniors from this team — Lynch and libero Kira Tedesco. Lynch is optimistic the team will remain competitive and further its growth next season. She said her teammates are what made her whole volleyball experience worthwhile.

“I think one of our biggest strengths this season was playing with each other and playing for each other. I think they can continue that into next season and seasons after this,” Lynch said. “I think there’s a lot to look forward to in the future and there’s a lot to be proud of from this season.”

Manhattan Christian advances to Class C semifinals

After beating Simms in four sets to open the Class C tournament on Thursday, Manhattan Christian guaranteed itself a trophy by then sweeping Froid-Medicine Lake in the quarterfinals that evening.

The Eagles advanced to a semifinal match against Plentywood late Friday.

In the quarterfinals, Christian won in convincing fashion with set scores of 25-16, 25-7, 25-13. The victory extended the team’s winning streak to 21.

The Eagles were the state champions in 2019 and the runners-up last season. They will finish in the top three this season.

Kiersten Van Kirk led the Eagles with 13 kills and five aces. Ava Bellach added seven kills and two aces of her own. Jadyn VanDyken tallied 17 assists to go with 10 digs.

Pending the outcome of Friday’s match, Christian will play in either a championship match at noon Saturday or in a consolation match with an opportunity to reach the championship match at 10 a.m.

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Parker Cotton can be reached at pcotton@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @ByParkerCotton.

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