CHURCHILL — It wasn’t the cleanest performance, but Manhattan Christian dominated nonetheless.

The tournament host needed less than an hour in a pair of matches Thursday to post sweeps on Day 1 of the Western C Divisional in the Memorial Event Center. It began with a 25-10, 25-16, 25-13 victory against Hot Springs and concluded with a 25-16, 25-14, 25-11 win against Ennis.

The Eagles (19-1) advanced to the undefeated semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Friday. They’ll face a familiar foe in District 11C rival Gardiner (16-5), which also posted a pair of sweeps.

The teams met in the championship match of last week’s district tournament, as well as in the semifinal. Christian has won three of the four contests this season.

“It’ll be another grudge match I’m sure. It always is between the two of us,” longtime Eagles coach Jill Ayers said. “It’ll be fun.”

Eliana Kuperus and Kiersten Van Kirk combined for 24 of the team’s 39 kills against Hot Springs. Van Kirk set the tone early, scoring on a kill and an ace as the Eagles took an 8-3 lead in the first set.

Christian pulled away with a 10-2 run in the second set, which was capped by a kill from Kuperus, and built a quick 9-2 lead en route to easily winning the third.

The Eagles got off to a similar start against Ennis, building a 13-5 lead in the first set. After Ennis rallied to get within 13-11, Kuperus scored on a kill and then added an ace for a 16-12 lead. She eventually capped the first set with another kill.

The Eagles built a 21-10 lead in the second set and broke the third set open following three consecutive kills by Hailey VanDyken for an 11-6 lead. Faith Shepard had a long service run, including an ace, midway through the third set, while Shayla VanDyken added three kills off the bench to help spark Christia in the second set.

“(Shayla VanDyken has) got kind of an unorthodox swing, and I think it’s hard to read,” Ayers said. “She came in and really put the ball where it needed to be.”

Van Kirk led the Eagles with nine kills, while Kuperus had eight kills and three blocks.

“This one was not as clean as this morning,” Ayers said. “That second game we just weren’t as smooth as the first game. But that’s alright. I’ll take it.”

With a victory in the undefeated semifinal, Christian would clinch a second consecutive berth to next week’s Class C tournament in Bozeman. With a loss, the Eagles would need to win Saturday morning’s consolation match to punch a ticket to state and reach the championship match.

“One more win,” Ayers said. “It’s nice to have that knowledge that you can still lose one — this weird sport of volleyball where you can still lose one and go on. It’s nice to know that we still got our two (losses) if we need them.”

Colton Pool can be reached at or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.