Now, the Maroons know they have what it takes.
One year removed from their first trip to the Class A state tournament in school history, Butte Central’s volleyball team is ready to go back.
The Maroons showed as much Saturday morning when they held their Maroon and White scrimmage at the Maroon Activities Center.
“There was always this block,” BC coach Kaila Minehan said of going to state. “It was like a door we were never given a key to. Once you feel freedom to go into that room, there’s no problem anymore.
“Our goal has always been that way, but our kids believe it now because they’ve been there.”
The Maroons showed off a young, yet experienced group as the team prepares for a return trip to Bozeman for state.
The varsity team beat the subvarsity team 25-11, 25-19, but Minehan said she liked what she saw on both sides of the net.
“We’ve still got to work off some rust, tweak some things defensively and offensively,” Minehan said, pointing out that her team doesn’t open its season for two weeks. “Overall I’m pleased with our performance. I’m feeling good with some of the strides we made this week.”
BC’s three seniors led the way Saturday, with Erin Antonioli, Sadie Harrington and Cassidy McGree leading the way.
“Sadie Harrington is our veteran middle, and she’s doing a great job leading,” Minehan said. “She’s going to have some fun hits this year, and her blocking is getting better and better. She got several blocks today. She’s just that centerpiece that’s leading.”
Fellow senior Cassidy McGree stepped nicely into the libero role. She excelled on defense and showed a strong serve, running off a long streak of varsity points in the first game of the match.
“Cassidy is just that dynamite kid,” Minehan said. “Every single ball she wants to make a play on it.”
The coach pointed to the defensive play of Antonioli, who also showed off a strong serve.
The Maroons will rely on a freshman, Emily St. John, to handle the duties at setter.
“It’s a freshman quarterback is basically what we’ve got going on with our team, and I’m excited about it,” Minehan said. “She’s adjusted well and the team has accepted her well.
” She’s mixing up the offense very well. As a freshman setter she’s strides beyond were other freshmen setters would be. ”
BC’s strong sophomore class also left its mark on the Maroon and White scrimmage.
“They’re only going to get better,” Minehan said of her group that saw lots of time as freshmen.
“With Sierra Pica on the right side, she’s blocking really well and her hit is going to start coming around. Teresa Piazzola on the outside is hitting hard,” Minehan said. “Shawnee Hjelt, she didn’t really hit for us (last year) but she played defense. She’s starting to play all the way around. She’s a little pistol, even though she’s not really tall. She’s able to jump high and she’s got a power finish.”
Minehan also singled out the play of Lacey McGree.
“She is doing a great job in middle for us,” the coach said. “Middle blocker is a tough position, and she’s really closing the block well for us.”
Butte Central starts the season Sept. 6 when the Maroons head to the Bitterroot for a tipoff tournament. The Maroons’ first home match is Sept. 10 against Livingston.
The state tournament starts Nov. 16 in Bozeman.