It was a crosstown final, but from a different town.
Helena rode seven kills from Savanah Swanson and six from Regan Fruh to a 25-18, 25-21 win over Helena Capital in the championship of the Missoula Invitational volleyball tournament Friday.
Fruh, a 6-foot senior middle blocker, contributed two blocks and two kills to a 7-0 spurt in the first set, as the Bengals (13-6) took a 20-14 lead. She added two more kills near the end of the second set as Helena made up a 21-20 deficit.
The Bengals seem to be right at home at the Missoula Sentinel gym: It’s their third Missoula Invitational title in four appearances and fourth title in six years.
It was also their second win over the Bruins (12-8) in four days. After dropping a five-setter to their crosstown rival in September, the Bengals beat Capital in straight sets on Tuesday.
“I made a little bit of a lineup change,” said Helena coach Tiffany Hofer. “And team chemistry is coming along a lot better.”
“Just our work ethic has become a lot stronger,” added Fruh, who had four blocks. “We started working a lot harder and putting a little more pressure on ourselves to have that sense of urgency.
“We’ve just been working our butts off in practice.”
Helena sits second in the Western AA conference standings at 7-2, but beat first-place Glacier in three sets in Friday’s semifinals. Glacier, the defending tournament champion, rallied to beat Great Falls for third.
Part of the Bengals’ surge might have something to do with Swanson, who at 5-foot-7 isn’t the tallest outside hitter around. But the southpaw’s three straight kills seemed to galvanize the Bengals late in the second set.
“She’s an emotional spark plug,” said Hofer.
“She’s just such a good friend of mine,” added Fruh. “And it’s amazing how versatile she is. Last year she hardly ever played front row and this year she can come and be like a huge powerhouse. It’s awesome.”
The consolation bracket, played at Hellgate High School, saw Sentinel surge to the title. The Spartans rode eight kills from Maddy Butler, four aces from Abby Hanich and six digs from Lauren Cady to a 25-13, 25-19 win over Polson.
The Class A Pirates won more matches Friday – three – than they did sets on Thursday.
Tian Harrington had 15 assists for the Spartans.
Hellgate topped Great Falls Russell for third place in the consolation bracket.
Friday at Sentinel High School
Helena def. Helena Capital 25-18, 25-21
Kills – Helena 24 (Savanah Swanson 7, Regan Fruh 6), Capital 16 (Michaela Dowdy 7). Blocks – Helena 7 (Fruh 4, Jenna Starke 3), Capital 4 (Dowdy 1.5). Digs – Helena 51 (Alicia Norling 13), Capital 54 (Elise Mathis 20). Assists – Helena 22 (Madison Richtmeyer 22), Capital 14 (Reyna Pilgeram 13). Aces – Helena 3 (3 with 1), Capital 1 (Pilgeram).
Friday at Sentinel
Helena Capital def. Kalispell Flathead 25-22, 12-25, 16-14
Great Falls def. Columbia Falls 25-23, 25-15
Glacier def. Frenchtown 25-11, 25-23
Helena def. Butte 25-14, 25-19
Flathead def. Columbia Falls 25-18, 25-14
Frenchtown def. Butte 14-25, 25-12, 15-8
Capital def. Great Falls 25-22, 27-25
Helena def. Glacier 27-25, 14-25, 15-13
Glacier def. Flathead 22-25, 25-22, 15-10
Great Falls def. Frenchtown 25-16, 23-25, 15-10
Glacier def. Great Falls 25-20, 25-21, third place
Helena def. Capital 25-18, 25-21, championship
Friday at Hellgate
(Most scores unavailable)
Polson def. Hellgate
Libby def. Big Sky
Sentinel def. Great Falls CMR
Anaconda def. Whitefish
Hellgate def. Big Sky
CMR def. Whitefish
Polson def. Libby
Sentinel def. Anaconda
CMR def. Libby
Hellgate def. Anaconda
Hellgate vs. CMR, 25-23, 27-25, third place
Sentinel def. Polson 25-13, 25-19, championship