The 15-2 capper was the defining punctuation the Butte High varsity applied after two close games with the junior varsity in the volleyball program’s preseason scrimmage held Friday in the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym at the high school.
The varsity swept, 25-17, 25-20, 15-2 — beginning the match with four straight ace serves by senior Hannah Amtmann and finishing with some dominating net play by junior Abby Dodge and senior Mikayla McGivern.
In between, though, the junior varsity made the first-stringers work for it.
“I thought we did a good job once we got Abby and Mikayla into the flow of things,” Dale Burgman, head coach of the Bulldogs, said. “And, Hannah is the only one we have who played varsity for us last year. Hannah’s just good on the back row and Abby and Mikayla with McKenna (Dahlman) are a tough front line to hit over.
Amtmann’s leadership shined. The 5-foot-1 returnee at libero came up with a load of digs, though the total was unavailable, and her jump-serve was too hot for the JV receivers. She drilled 10 of the varsity’s 13 aces.
Seniors Erika Spear and Paige Powers, and junior Sam Krzan, each got a game at the setter spot, while juniors Kaity McGruder and Amanda Pickle, and sophomores Alissa Bernhardt and Katlyn O’Brien all auditioned at the other outside hitter spot opposite Dodge.
All had bright moments, Burgman said.
Unofficial stats showed Dodge hammering eight kills, and McGivern mashing seven and fencing up three blocks to lead the team.
After Amtmann served the varsity to a 4-0 lead to begin the match, the jayvees rallied and took a 10-7 edge on a kill by sophomore Kaidy McClafferty. The score was tied 13-all on a kill by Pickle before the varsity went ahead for good on a JV hitting error. The varsity was able to stretch the lead and reached game point 24-17 on an ace by McGivern. A hit into the net by the junior varsity then ended the game.
The second game was tight from the get-go and the JV led 20-19 after Jenna Maroney dumped a soft drop over the net. Dodge then belted a kill to tie the count and Amtmann served the set out with five straight points, three of them on aces. One ace brought game point and then a tip by Dodge finished the set.
The third game was all varsity. The squad rolled out to a 9-0 lead, Amtmann serving eight points after the team gained a 1-0 lead and the side-out on a Dodge kill. McGivern scored four kills and a block in the 9-0 run, and Dodge pounded home another kill. The other two points in the spree came on Amtmann’s 10th ace and on a JV shot that traveled beyond the end line. Junior varsity libero Keeley Pochervina dug up a hard shot that caromed back over the net for the jayvee point that ended the varsity run.
However, the jayvees committed four errors on the next seven serves and the varsity capitalized with a kill by Dodge, a scoring dig by Amtmann and a block by McGivern and McGruder, to cap the scrimmage.
McClafferty, a Friday callup to the junior varsity from the sophomores’ roster, wound up with a squad-high three kills. Maroney and Hailee Regan each chalked up two. At 5-11, McClafferty and Dodge are the tallest players in the program. McClafferty joined the JV squad after another middle blocker came down with an illness, Burgman said.
Butte High will open its regular-season and Eastern AA Conference schedule on Sept. 4 at Billings Skyview. After playing at Billings West on Sept. 5, the Bulldogs will then hold their home opener on Sept. 8 in a non-conference match versus Missoula Sentinel.
Burgman is being assisted in the coaching duties by his daughter, Brianna Barsness, along with Geah Zahler, Katrina Berg and Rebecca Schwartzmiller.
Partial, unofficial stats from Friday’s scrimmage follow:
Butte High varsity def. Butte High junior varsity 25-17, 25-20, 15-2.
KILLS — JV 10 (Kaidy McClafferty 3, Jenna Maroney 2, Hailee Regan 2, Keeley Pochervina 1, Alissa Berhnardt 1, McKenna Wendt 1), Varsity 21 (Abby Dodge 8, Mikayla McGivern 7, McKenna Dahlman 3, Hannah Amtmann 1, Kaity McGruder 1, Amanda Pickle 1). ACES — JV 2 (Pochervina 1, Regan 1), Varsity 13 (Amtmann 10, McGivern 1, Paige Powers 1, Dodge 1). BLOCKS — JV 3 (Bethanney McMahon 1, McClafferty 1, Maroney 1), Varsity 5 (McGivern 3, McGruder 1, Dahlman 1).