By Bruce Sayler
The perseverance Butte Central showed through the second day, Saturday, of its own Blocktober Classic high school volleyball tournament is what impressed head coach Becky Hancock.
“It was a long two days,” Hancock said in the Maroon Activities Center just after the Maroons defeated Frenchtown 29-27 and 25-14 for third place in the consolation bracket of the 23-team tournament. The championship bracket competition and bracket play in another consolation field were held Saturday in the Butte Civic Center after Friday’s pool play competition.
“I’m proud of the girls and how they came out today after a very long day of volleyball yesterday,” Hancock continued. “They showed a lot of perseverance and the right attitude.”
The BC girls began Saturday with a 25-17, 25-11 sweep of Columbia Falls, then lost a consolation semifinal match to Ronan, 25-20, 16-25, 15-6. Butte Central recovered and won a loser-out over Lewistown by 25-21, 25-22 to advance to the final versus Frenchtown.
“We usually don’t do so well at tournaments,” Hancock said. “And, some fatigue did start to set in at the end of the day. That was a just a lot of volleyball for this team and the girls were just scrappy. They really dug deep today and gave their all. They really competed.”
The Maroons’ team play seemed to improve as the day progressed.
“As a coach, I’ll always see holes in some things,” Hancock said. “But, the team play did improve as the day went on. Momentum gives you a lot extra and we saw that. We played scrappy today and I saw some great things.”
Having so many conference rivals and potential future opponents in the arena to watch and play against was a boon to playing host to such a tournament, the coach said.
“It definitely helped seeing the other teams,” Hancock said. “After next week, we’ll be in postseason tournaments. The possibility of playing back-to-back games, like we did sometimes this weekend, exists. It was good to see so many teams.”
The BC girls will close their regular season this week with games at Stevensville on Thursday and at home against Hamilton on Saturday in Southwestern A Conference matches.
Butte Central 2, Frenchtown 0
The first set turned into a marathon as the Maroons wound up a 29-27, 25-14 winner. Butte Central owned five-point leads twice early in the match only to have Frenchtown battle back. A kill by Isabelle Cahall gave Frenchtown a 24-23 edge and set point.
However, the Broncs tangled the next serve in the net and the set was tied and headed for extra serves. An Ella Moodry block gave BC set point at 25-24, then a Frenchtown shot stopped in the net. Emily Rehbein killed for Frenchtown for another set point, only to have a Bronc’s shot travel long. Another kill by Rehbein gave Frenchtown the edge again, but a tip by Butte Central’s Brooke Badovinac tied the score at 27-all. The Broncs fumble a pass-set exchange off the next serve and the Maroons had set point again. They cashed the opportunity with a kill by Badovinac after the Broncs were caught chasing BC hits side-to-side.
An 10-point serving run by Sofee Thatcher garnered BC the second-set win. She took the serve with a 10-9 edge and gave it up only after Butte Central jumped out to a 20-9 command.
Tips by Ma Keeley and Kinley Hamilton, an ace serve, a block by Hamilton and a kill by Moodry highlighted the run. Toni Beatty’s kill for Frenchtown ended the run.
The Maroons got to match point at 24-13 on a serving error by Frenchtown. After a side-out, Badovinac slammed a kill and Butte Central owned third place in the bracket.
Ronan and Florence played for the consolation bracket championship on the next court.
Butte Central def. Frenchtown 29-27, 25-14.
Butte Central Stats – Maycee Anderson 8 digs; Brenna Foley 6 digs; Brooke Badovinac 2 digs, 7 kills, 2 blocks; Mollie Drew 2 digs, 2 assists; Payton Hartwick 2 aces; Ella Moodry 3 digs, 9 kills, 1 block; Mia Keeley 4 digs, 18 assists; Sofee Thatcher 2 aces, 10 digs; 3 kills; Kinley Hamilton 1 dig, 2 kills
Butte Central 2, Columbia Falls 0
Brooke Badovinac and Sofee Thatcher hammered six kills apiece, and Mia Keeley set 14 assists as Butte Central shined in its 25-17, 25-11 sweep of Columbia Falls in an early Saturday morning game in consolation play.
The teams were back-and-forth on the scoreboard through the earlier serves of the first set before the Maroons went ahead for good as a carry call against Columbia Falls broke a 10-all tie. Thatcher toed the service line and fired an ace before Ella Moodry tipped in a point and the Wildkats were called for a carry. Butte Central had a 14-10 lead and maintained. Columbia Falls’ last lead had been 9-7 after two aces by Demye Rensel.
Badovinac served an ace for set point at 24-17, then Kinley Hamilton tipped in the set-winner.
Two Maroon errors staked the Wildkats to a 2-0 advantage to start the second set. BC, however, caught up at 4-all on a kill by Keeley. It was followed by a tip scored by Badovinac and a Thatcher kill and Butte Central was ahead for good.
An acrobatic dig by libero Maycee Anderson led to a kill by Thatcher that gave the Maroons a 17-9 spread that grew to 19-9 on a pair of Columbia Falls hitting errors – shots that tangled in the net.
The Wildkats suffered a rash of errors in the waning ticks of the set and one put Butte Central at match point, 24-11. An ace by Mia Keeley finished the match for the Maroons.
Butte Central def. Columbia Falls 25-17, 25-11.
Butte Central stats – Maycee Anderson 1 ace, 10 digs; Brenna Foley 2 digs; Brooke Badovinac 2 aces, 5 digs, 6 kills; Mollie Drew 4 digs, 2 assists; Payton Hartwick 3 digs; Ella Moodry 3 kills; Mia Keeley 1 ace, 6 digs; 14 assists, 1 kill; Sofee Thatcher 1 ace, 6 digs, 6 kills; Kinley Hamilton 1 kill.
Ronan 2, Butte Central 1
Ronan led most of the first set and had a 19-16 advantage after a Butte Central serve caught in the net. The Maroons, however, rallied and tied the score at 20-all on a kill by hard-hitting sophomore Ella Moodry.
The Maidens, however, served out the set with Claire Crist at the line. Leina Ulutoa notched a block and Olivia Clairmont followed with a kill. Then a block by the 5-foot-10, highly athletic Clairmont put set point at 24-20. A shot by BC circled a net antenna on the outside and ended the set on the error.
Butte Central was a force in the second set and broke a tie and opened the set with a four-point serving run by Payton Hartwick. She started it with an ace, then Brooke Badovinac scored on a block and finished a long volley with a kill. A Ronan carry call capped the run.
The Maroons built on their lead and stretched it to set point, 24-15 after a Badovinac ace and a Sofee Thatcher block. After a sideout, Thatcher hit a far placement into the deepcourt to end the set and tie the match score at a set apiece.
The Maidens owned the tie-breaker set. After the teams dueled to a 4-all tie, a Butte Central shot missed wide of the court for a Ronan lead. The Maidens’ Rylie Lindquist served an eight-point run as Ronan grabbed control. Juliana Vizzerra, Kylie Fetui and Clairmont contibuted kills to the run and Fetui also had a block. Lindquist aced one serve.
Moodry ended the Ronan run with a kill, but the Maroons trailed 12-5. Jaslyn Frost nailed a kill a few serves later for match point at 14-6, and Ronan finished it with an ace by Hannah Rowe.
Ronan def. Butte Central 25-20, 16-25, 15-6
Butte Central stats – Maycee Anderson 3 aces, 13 digs; Brenna Foley 8 digs; Brooke Badovinac 2 aces, 7 digs, 3 kills, 3 blocks; Mollie Drew 1 dig; Payton Hartwick 1 ace, 6 digs; Ella Moodry 3 digs, 6 kills; Mia Keeley 1 ace, 5 digs, 14 assists; Sofee Thatcher 1 ace, 14 digs, 4 kills, 1 block; Kinley Hamilton 1 dig, 1 kill.
Butte Central 2, Lewistown 0
Two close sets tested Butte Central’s mettle after the loss to Ronan. The Maroons stubbornly made leads stand up in both sets and won 25-21, 25-22.
Lewistown owned an edge through most of the early going in the first set. A kill by Brooke Weinheimer gave the Eagles a 13-12 edge for their last lead of the set. The Eagles made two miscues, but rebounded with a tip by Aniya Ross for a 14-all tie. A bump by Ella Moodry by Butte Central cleared the net and parachuted into an open spot for a 15-14 BC edge and the Maroons didn’t relinquish it.
It grew to a 23-18 margin after a Lewistown shot clung to the net. Later, a shot too long by the Eagles created set point, 24-21, and then a tip by Moodry won the set for BC.
Lewistown jumped out ahead early in the second set and held a 6-2 advantage after a push shot by Elsie Crouse found a vacant spot to land. A Payton Hartwick serving run rallied Butte Central and the Maroons tied the score 6-all on a tip by Brooke Badovinac before a kill by setter Mia Keeley gave the Maroons a one-point lead.
The teams were tied after a BC try missed wide. An Eagle’s serve also was wide of the mark and then Sofee Thatcher placed a shot for a 9-7 Butte Central lead. Keeley followed with a serving run to 11-7 on Lewistown miscues.
The Maroons continued to lead, but the Eagles continued to lurk, closely. A kill by Thatcher notched match point at 24-21. After a BC serve snagged in the net, Moodry mashed a kill for the Butte Central victory..
Butte Central def. Lewistown 25-21, 25-22.
Butte Central stats – Maycee Anderson 1 ace, 11 digs; Brenna Foley 4 digs; Brooke Badovinac 2 digs, 6 kills, 2 blocks; Mollie Drew 1 dig; Payton Hartwick 5 digs; Ella Moodry 1 dig, 9 kills, 2 blocks; Mia Keeley 1 ace, 5 digs, 21 assists, 1 kill; Sofee Thatcher 17 digs, 7 kills; Kinley Hamilton.