The vaunted Bozeman volleyball team left Butte High Tuesday night with a 25-20, 25-17, 25-15 sweep over the Bulldogs, but they knew they had been a match,
The Bulldogs were hardly intimidated in their own Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym and answered Bozeman’s power with tough and scrappy play that not only defended against some cannon shots, but sent some right back at the Hawks.
“I think that’s important to point out,” Butte High head coach Dale Burgman said of how Butte High went toe-to-toe with the one-loss Bozeman juggernaut most of the night.
Some of the saves Butte High libero Hannah Amtmann dug up bordered on the impossible. The Hawks not only unleashed sheer power but displayed a height that provided enviable leverage with the likes of 6-foot-4 Amy Watkins, 6-2 collegiate sure-bet Caitlin Lonergan and 6-0 Oakley Strickler. Josie D’Agostino also wielded a wicked power stroke.
“If that team showed up when we played CMR, we’d have had two more wins,” Burgman said, alluding to the Bulldogs and how they struggled in losses recently to C.M. Russell of Great Falls. “The nice thing about how (the Bulldogs) played tonight was when they did things right, they built on it.’
“McKenna Dahlman had that big block against power and Abby Dodge just got tougher and tougher in the middle. I was pleased with the effort. I was also pleased with how we served aggressively.”
The numbers for Butte High were not too bad. Kills against the tall, talented Bozeman front line were difficult to execute. However, 18 digs by Amtmann and another dozen by new starter Jenna Maroney highlighted the floor defense and serve-receive. Erika Spear fired two ace serves and Dahlman posted two blocks. Dodge led in kills with seven, and three setters rotated through,divvying up 16 assists.
Butte High played with the tall, athletic Bozeman team in the first game and led for much of it. The Bulldogs’ biggest lead was 15-11 after a Bozeman hitting error and their last advantage was 20-19 after a kill by Dodge had made it a 20-17 difference. The Hawks gained serve on a Lonergan kill and then she served out the match for eight straight points. Two of the points came on aces, including the set point. A carry call against Butte High ended the set, but it was a spirited Bulldog effort that carried over to a competitive second game.
“We took Lonergan out of it, so that at least she wasn’t hitting it anywhere she wanted to,” Burgman said. “But we have to remember they’re 19-and-1 for a reason. Bozeman’s smart, too. Not a serve went anywhere near Hannah in that (last Lonergan-served) series. They executed.”
Bozeman led the second set from 2-1 on an ace by D’Agostino. The Bulldogs stayed close, however, and closed the gap to 16-14 on a tip by Maroney. The Hawks responded by gaining side-out on a Butte High serve that went too far, and then reeling off six straight points behind the service of Megan Fox. The game point was made at 24-17 on an out-of-bounds serve by the Bulldogs. A kill by D’Agostino ended the set.
Bozeman was a little more dominant in the third game, but Butte High competed. The Bulldogs might have been just a little weary from the energy spent in a tough battle. The Hawks led throughout the third set and though they threatened to run away with the game at times, they never were able to put the Bulldogs out of the it — until the end. They led 18-10 after a Butte High hitting error and were up 21-12 after a Lonergan kill. Lonergan was at the service line for the next three points. The Hawks gained match point on a kill by D’Agostino that blasted through Butte High’s attempted block. The Bulldogs fought off the final point through two serves, one becoming a tip by Bozeman that was wide and the other ending in an ace by Amtmann following the side-out. Bozeman, though, ended the contest with a block by Strickler.
The Hawks notched 32 kills in the sweep with 12 of them by Lonergan. The team spread nine ace serves through its rotation, was led in assists by Allie Lynch with 29 and in digs by libero Dana Perdaems with 16.
The Hawks are 7-1 in Eastern AA Conference play and 19-1 overall, their only loss being to fellow power Billings Senior. The Bulldogs are 1-8 and 2-12 and will play in the Missoula Invitational tournament this weekend.
“We’re taking all 13 kids and giving them all some varsity experience,” Burgman said. “Hopefully, we can have something positive happen and build on it. We’ll keep working with his lineup and fine-tune it. “
Bozeman def. Butte High 25-20, 25-17, 25-15
KILLS — Bozeman 32 (Caitlin Lonergan 12, Oakley Strickler 8), Butte High 19 (Abby Dodge 7, Mikayla McGivern 3, McKenna Dahlman 3, Jenna Maroney 3, Amanda Pickle 2, Kaity McGruder 1). ASSISTS — Bozeman 30 (Allie Lynch 29), Butte High 16 (Erika Spear 9, Paige Powers 5, Sam Krzan 2). ACES — Bozeman 9 (Lynch 2, Megan Fox 2, Lonergan 2), Butte High 3 (Spear 2, Hannah Amtmann 1). DIGS — Bozeman 47 (Dana Perdaems 16, Fox 7, Lynch 7), Butte High 50 (Amtmann 18, Maroney 12, Pickle 9, Powers 4, Dahlman 3, Spear 2, Dodge 1, Krzan 1). BLOCKS — Bozeman 5 (Lynch 3, Molly Watkins 3), Butte High 4 (Dahlman 2, Maroney 1, McGruder 1).