Gardiner Lady Bruins volleyball capture District title with key victory over Manhattan Christian
Jason Blasco —
Monday, October 29, 2018
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Enterprise photo by Jason Blasco

The Gardiner Bruins volleyball team celebrates capturing the 11-C District title with their second-consecutive victory over Manhattan Christain Friday night at Manhattan Christian High School. Both Gardiner and Manhattan Christian have advanced to the Divisional Tournament as the top two teams from their conference.

CHURCHILL — Gardiner High School volleyball player Abby Dean knew defeating Manhattan Christian would be a necessary step for the Lady Bruins to secure a Class 11-C District title.

Dean noted the rapid progression of an MCHS team that has a roster that consists of two senior players Alexa Van Dyken and Kelsey Heidema and a list that includes three six-footers from the start of the season until the playoffs.

“Manhattan Christian is very tall and (their height) is one aspect that our team isn’t used to,” Dean said. “They had a speedy progression and they are hitting the ball very hard. We knew we had to up our game on defense and with serving.”

Gardiner High School coach Carmen Harbach, whose team defeated the Lady Eagles for the second straight time in the semifinals of the 11-C District Tournament, also predicted her team would see them in the 11-C volleyball championship match.

Harbach was right.

MCHS defeated Lone Peak in the consolation bracket to earn a championship rematch with Gardiner in the double-elimination format.

The Lady Eagles again were turned back as Gardiner defeated MHCS in four games Friday night at Manhattan Christian High School to secure the Montana High School Association Class 11-C District title.

“I thought we served well and took them out of their offense,” Harbach said after defeating them in four sets to capture the 11-C District title. “We were able to get some digs again and get some good hits (during the match). I thought we played well and that was our best serving night for the season. I am proud of our team’s effort and I am proud of how hard they worked. They played consistently good volleyball.”

The Lady Bruins swept the Lady Eagles in a Sept. 27 match but suffered their only regular-season loss in the season finale, falling to them 25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 26-24 before 11-C District play.

Gardiner, who split matches with Manhattan Christian during the regular season, now has a 3-1 headto-head advantage as both teams prepare for Divisionals.

Dean said playing MCHS four times during the regular season has given her team, whose tallest player Josie Thomas lists at 5-9, a chance to adjust against taller teams moving forward.

“MHCS is probably the tallest team we’ve seen in a long time,” Dean said. “We like to pride ourselves on playing defense and passing, and that is our main priority. We like to outlast the other teams. It is a challenge to come up against their big blockers and make sure we are covering our spots.”

Harbach acknowledges Divisional play will be an even stricter level for her team, which consists of two seniors Chloe Chase and Dean, and will not be easy.

“We have the two tops teams in each conference coming into one tournament and know every match will be a challenge,” Harbach said. “It will be good competition. We will have to stay on top of our game and continue to have the confidence in our team to pull it off.”

The Lady Bruins begin Divisional play at 4 p.m. Thursday at Manhattan Christian High School.