Though Great Falls couldn't win its third straight volleyball match over a top-five team, the Bison did provide a bit of a jolt to the second-ranked Billings West Golden Bears Friday night at the West gym.
West dropped the first game but ultimately wound up with a four-game Eastern AA win to nail down the second seed in the league standings as the regular season ends today.
Great Falls entered the match fresh off last week's upsets of then-No. 3 Bozeman and then-No. 5 Billings Skyview and stormed out to a 25-18 win in the first game. But the Golden Bears found their block and a bit more consistency to sweep the next three games 25-19, 25-20, 25-20 for the victory.
• Great Falls at Billings Senior, 2:30 p.m.
• Great Falls CMR at Billings West, 2:30 p.m.
• Butte at Billings Skyview, 3:30 p.m.
• Miles City at Billings Central, 7 p.m.
"I think I had them too keyed up, I've got to quit doing that," West coach Beth Tocci said of her team's slow start. "It was a big match for us. We were trying to secure that second-place seed and (Great Falls) had beaten Skyview and Bozeman. That's a little scary."
Mikensi Romersa had a double-double of 12 kills and 21 digs to lead the Golden Bears (8-3, 20-7), who close out the regular season with a home match today against Great Falls CMR. Cherina Walen added 11 kills and Erin Compton 15 digs and four aces for a team that struggled to find any cohesiveness in the early going.
Though the Bison (5-6, 9-11) won the first game with some ease - they bolted to an 18-9 lead - Great Falls never led at any point the rest of the way.
"I think we underestimated them," said West setter Alex Faught, who had 23 assists and four aces. "We were probably thinking more ahead to (today's Senior Night). We need to play game by game and point by point."
The Bison did forge two ties in the final game and trailed just 18-17 after a kill by Makenzee Wright, who led all players with 13 kills, as they tried to extend the match. But Jennifer Stone brought things back to the West side with a kill off a set by Faught, who then served five more points, two on aces, to give the Golden Bears a 24-17 lead.
After a mini-run of three points by the Bison, Stone ended the match off a quick set by Faught and then told her setter, "That was sweet."
"We came into this with a lot of desire to win, and in those last couple of games we lost our confidence," said Great Falls coach Michelle Preston, whose team plays at top-ranked Billings Senior today. "West did a couple things to us and we didn't adjust fast enough. It's a big momentum game, this volleyball, and you've got to keep it on your side."
West def. Great Falls
18-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-20
Great Falls (5-6, 9-11) - Kills: 34 (Makenzee Wright 13). Assists: 29 (Jessica Younggren 27). Blocks: 10 (Younggren 3). Digs: 31 (Lacey Beaumont 7, Jessie Sutphin 7, Erica Jenkins 7). Aces: 7 (Jauna Anderson 3, Jenkins 3).
Billings West (8-3, 20-7) - Kills: 47 (Mikensi Romersa 12, Cherina Walen 11). Assists: 37 (Alex Faught 23). Blocks: 6 (Rachel Bryer 4, Lauryn McKay 3). Digs: 61 (Romersa 21, Erin Compton 15). Aces: 10 (Faught 4, Compton 4).