BOZEMAN — Billings Central volleyball coach Kylie Reitz could look across Brick Breeden Fieldhouse to the north and see ghosts of a championship past.
It was 10 years ago on that north court that Reitz — whose last name was Kufeld then — was helping Billings Senior claim one of its 12 Class AA championships.
Saturday, the Rams gave Reitz her first title as a coach and the fourth in program history, defeating Belgrade 19-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-11 in the Class A championship match.
After most of the obligatory tears had dried and photos were taken, Reitz was taken back to that time when current assistant coach Ashley Erb (then Welborn) was also a Bronc teammate and another assistant, Kathy Nielsen, was then an assistant for Billings West, the team Reitz and Welborn eventually defeated for that 2008 title.
More connections? Reitz’s sister, Bailey Kufeld, had 12 kills and 20 digs in Saturday’s win, and Nielsen’s daughter, Devin, had 50 assists.
Reitz was struck by how much more winning a state title meant as a coach than as a player.
“As a coach, you just want it so bad for (the players) and when you see them get it, it’s just a flood of emotions,” she said. “Then factor in that Bailey is a senior and that this senior class has been here with me the whole time that I’ve been a head coach … so, yeah, I mean, I bawled pretty much.”
Olivia Moten-Schell had 18 kills and Sydney Hawbaker added 15 for the Rams. Avery Hadley had 21 digs and Christy Cox recorded 20.
“We just came in ready to go,” said Hawbaker, one of five Rams seniors. “We knew what we wanted and we got it.”
Bailey Christensen had 16 kills and 17 digs, and Taylor Christensen added 24 digs for the Panthers, who finished 26-6 after a strong start to the championship match. All six losses were at the hands of the Rams.
“They’ve got three really strong hitters that can put the ball away,” said Belgrade coach Jade Schmidt, whose team had to win the third-place match earlier Saturday to reach the championship. “They’ve got a phenomenal setter and a great libero as well. When you have those pieces — pass, set and hit — it’s going to be tough to slow you down when there’s that many options that we need to pay attention to.”
With a final record of 31-2, the Rams didn’t lose to a Class A team all season; both defeats were to AA Senior. The Rams placed second at last year’s tournament, and they knew coming into this season that a chance for the school’s first title since 2009 was there for the taking.
They took it.
“It’s a picture-perfect ending,” Kufeld said. “There’s really no way we could have done it better.”
Belgrade 3, Corvallis 1
Christensen had 16 kills and Belgrade recorded 11 assists as the Panthers defeated Corvallis 25-10, 25-16, 25-18 in the third-place match.
Hannah Hutchison had 12 kills and eight digs for Corvallis, which earned its first hardware since the Blue Devils finished second in 2015. Kate Hurlbert added 15 assists and eight digs.