By Bruce Sayler
It was a good thing Butte Central had a closer on Saturday.
Senior hitter Cassidy Strizic filled the role as the Maroons defeated Hamilton 25-13, 25-16, 25-22 in a Western A Conference high school girls’ volleyball match in the Maroon Activities Center.
BC led Hamilton by two games and seemed destined for somewhat of a cruise for the day. However, the Broncs refused to give up and took an 11-3 lead on Butte Central, threatening to seize the important momentum of the match.
Good setting by both Emma Keeley and Maci Reopelle helped the power hitter Strizic blast favor back to the Maroons’ side of the net. She nailed seven kills in the last set as BC overcame the deficit.
“We talk a lot about finishing,” Butte Central head coach Becky Hancock, somewhat frustrated, somewhat humored, said after the win. “Obviously, we’re coming back and then finishing, but we have to be better when we’re up by two games. We have to have that mentality (to put the opponent away).”
The Maroons played like contenders over the first two sets.
Strizic served the last five points of the first game, booming back-to-back aces for two points, as Butte Central took the match lead. Consecutive hitting errors by Hamilton after Strizic’s second ace in the run ended the game. The Maroons led the whole set.
Hamilton hung with BC early in the second set and had a 9-8 edge after a kill by Emma Ellis. The next Bronc attempt sailed long. Butte Central took the lead for good at 11-10 on a block by Reopelle. The Maroons improved their lead and reached set point at 24-16 on a two-hit call against Hamilton. Amira Bolton’s block ended the set.
Then, Butte Central had to bounce back from a long way down to take the third set and complete the sweep. Hamilton led 11-3 after a BC hit missed wide of the boundary and 16-9 after an ace by Magdalena Ringer. The Maroons steadied their way back at a deliberate pace, Strizic’s hard, sharp hitting highlighted the comeback. Two Bronc hitting errors resulted in a 20-all tie. BC got the last lead at 23-22 on a Hamilton set attempt that hit off the bottom of the net. Two more miscues by the Broncs finished off them and the match.
“I don’t feel like in the last two matches that we came out ready for the third game,” Hancock said. “We need to finish it. We had strong finishes in the third game, but we have to start playing like that from the get-go (of the set).
“We need to find our rhythm in a couple of rotations. We’re getting stuck there and we need to find some consistency in those rotations and combinations.”
Butte Central players to need to recognize and relay what they see on the court, too, their coach said.
“Communication,” Hancock said. “We need to be talking.
“Overall, I feel it’s getting there and we are taking play to the next level.”
Strizic finished with 13 kills and two aces and was complemented by 10 digs from libero Sophia Burton, and four aces from Maci Reopelle. Reopelle also had 16 assists and nine digs.
Ellis led the Hamilton attack with 11 kills and Camas Cratty served three aces.
Butte Central is 3-0 overall this season and 2-0 in the Western A Conference. They will be home against Corvallis Thursday in the MAC in a Western A matchup of leaders.
Butte Central def. Hamilton 25-13, 25-16, 25-22.
KILLS — Hamilton 23 (Emma Ellis 11, Camas Cratty 7), BC 23 (Cassidy Strizic 13, Avery Kelly 2, Amira Bolton 2, Marissa Anderson 2, Makala Doherty 2, Sophia Burton 1, Maci Reopelle1). ASSISTS — Hamilton 19 (Katelyn Dickemore 12), BC 22 (Reopelle 16, Emma Keeley 6). ACES — Hamilton 6 (Cratty 3), BC 7 (Reopelle 4, Strizic 2, Burton 1). DIGS — Hamilton 42 (Magdalena Ringer 9, Dickemore 9), BC 45 (Burton 10, Reopelle 9, Strizic 8, Sophie Sullivan 4, Bolton 4, Keeley 4, Anderson 4, Kelly 2). BLOCKS — Hamilton 8 (Layne Kearns 3, Cratty 2), BC 6 (Kelly 2, Bolton 2, Reopelle 2).