BOZEMAN — A year ago, Anna Brajcich got so sick the night before the Class B state championship match, they put a bucket the scorer’s table.
Just in case.
“I was up puking until 3 a.m.,” remembered the Red Lodge senior setter. “It was terrible. I think it was just nerves ... being at the state tournament the first tijme ... just everything.
“This year, I’m ready to go.”
Now it is Brajcich and her teammates who are making everybody ill with worry.
The Redskins swept through their first two matches Thursday, breezing past Glasgow and Manhattan Christian to reach tonight’s unbeaten semifinal for a second year in a row.
Red Lodge (31-3) will take in familiar foe Huntley Project (30-5) at 6 p.m.
The Red Devils wasted little time sweeping Choteau 25-17, 25-15, 25-15 to advance.
Tonight will be the ninth meeting between Red Lodge and Huntley Project. The Redskins hold a 5-3 edge on the defending state champions this season. The team’s only losses have been to each other.
“We just have to stay aggressive and have fun,” Brajcich said. “It’s our senior, year, we’ve got to go for it.”
With Brajcich quarterbacking the offense, Red Lodge put down 41 kills in its team’s 25-19, 25-12, 25-11 sweep of Glasgow in the first round. Brajcich finished with 31 assists.
She followed with 32 assists in the Redskins 25-19, 25-17, 25-19 win against Manhattan Christian a few hours later.
Against Glasgow, three Redskins — Elli Hellerud (13), Tess Hellerud (10) and Jodi LIndgren (10) — finished in double figures for kills. Tess Hellerud and Elli Hellerud each had 13 kills in the win over Manhattan Christian, while Lindgren added nine.
“I like the comfort of knowing we have hitters who can do the job every time,” said Brajcich. “It really doesn’t matter who I put the ball up to, I know somebody is going to make a place. It’s nice to have them around.”
The Southern B, which has produced 12 of the last 13 state champions, won three of four opening-round matches.
Along with Red Lodge and Huntley Project, Manhattan Christian opened with a win over Florence-Carlton. The only Southern B team to fall was Colstrip which pushed Northern B champion Choteau to five games. Blake Bennett had 13 kills for the Filles against Choteau.
Huntley Project, winner of five state titles, opened with a 25-17, 25-14, 25-12 sweep of Missoula Loyola.
Stormy Siemion led the Red Devils with 12 kills, while Nikki Bolton and Tessa Sian had three blocks each.
Kaitlin Albrecht, who played a key role in Huntley Project’s run to the state championship last year after she was moved from libero outside hitter, is now seeing limited action because of a foot injury.
“I dislocated a bone in my (left) foot at last week’s divisional,” said the junior. “Sometimes, it hurts a lot.”
Albrecht is serving for the Red Devils and playing some back row. She wore a boot on her foot all week leading up to the state tournament.
“I haven’t been to the doctor’s yet,” she said with a smile. “I don’t want him to keep me out. I owe it to my teammates. This is state, we’re here to finish it out.”
BrieAnna Geck and Siemion combined 25 kills against Choteau, while Albrecht had a team-high 10 digs. Kesley Oblender had four of the Red Devils’ 12 aces, while Kaylee McNeal finished with 29 assists. Tess Sian also had two blocks at the net.
Mariah Renteria paced Choteau with 10 kills.