HELENA — After their best regular-season finish in three years, Capital High is looking to extend its winning ways at the State All-Class Volleyball Tournament in Bozeman beginning Thursday.

Capital, as the West’s No. 2 seed, earned a bye to state and will face Eastern Conference No. 3 Billings West in their tourney opener at 4 p.m. in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.

The last time Capital placed second iwas 2014.

The Bruins enter the match with an 18-6 record; the Bears are 19-10. The two teams met in their season-opener in Billings in August. Capital won in four sets.

The conference champions at state are Missoula Sentinel and Billings Senior.

Multi-talented Sarah Ashley, a 5-foot-10 sophomore outside hitter, leads Capital in three categories: 251 kills, 260 digs and 38 service aces.

Freshman setter Audrey Hofer has passed for 410 assists and junior middle blocker Emily Kidder is high with 54 blocks.

Senior outside hitter Katie Culver ranks No. 2 with 221 kills and 243 digs, and is third with 35 blocks. Dani Bartsch, a 6-2 freshman middle blocker, is second with 48 blocks and 33 aces, and is No. 3 with 189 digs.

Senior Celina Sanchez owns 392 assists. Hofer has served 30 aces.

“Our ultimate goal would be to compete in the championship match on Saturday,” CHS coach Rebecca Cleveland said. “The keys to achieving that goal must be to remain disciplined defensively and a strong start (and) consistent finish against each opponent we face.

“I am so proud of our team’s progress this season and look forward to seeing what they can accomplish, together, at the state tournament this week.”

Curt Synness is on Twitter @curtsynness_IR and can be reached at curt.synness@lee.net or curt52synness@gmail.com

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