By Bruce Sayler
The height and power ingredients were prevalent in the Corvallis attack Tuesday night as the Blue Devils posted a three-game sweep over Butte Central in a Southwestern A Conference high school girls’ volleyball match.
The scores were 25-15, 25-17, 25-13 in the contest held in the Maroon Activities Center (MAC).
“It was a good test for us tonight,” Butte Central head coach Becky Hancock said. “It’s tough when your kids are outmatched. It’s tough to stop hitters like that. But, it was a good test for us to figure it out.”
The Maroons didn’t back down against a hard-hitting Blue Devil lineup that included the likes of 6-foot-3 junior middle blocker Isabel Evans, 6-0 senior middle blocker Charlotte Powell and 6-0 outside hitter Maureen Jessop at the focus of the team’s attack. Jessop is a Montana Tech commit, and looked to be a good catch Tuesday night for the Orediggers. She boomed 14 kills with blasts from all over the court.
Corvallis cinched up early leads in both of the first games and held them for the wins. In the first set, the Blue Devils led all the way, rolling out to an 8-1 lead behind the hitting of Jessop and Powell, and the serving of Kaitlin Irwin and Denali Smith. The difference reached 10 points at 21-11 on a Jessop kill. A bock by Evans created set point at 24-13 before a net violation on Butte Central ended the set four side-outs later.
The second game was similar. Corvallis grabbed a 3-0 lead and steadily built on it. The margin’s widest span was eight points, 19-11, after an Irwin block. A kill by Evans was good for set point, 24-17. A shot by the Maroons then missed beyond the end line and the Blue Devils held a 2-0 game lead in the match.
Corvallis flexed muscle in the third set. Irwin served the Blue Devils out ahead 5-0 and a nine-point serving run by Jessop soon followed. Evans scored three blocks and a tip in the run, and Jessop sizzled three aces as Corvallis opened a 19-5 command. A serving error by the BC girls a bit later brought match point at 24-13 before a bump on a save for Butte Central floated wide and finished the match.
Butte Central re-established its block in the third game with some deflections by sophomores Avery Kelly and Allyson Mueller, and some good play from Cassidy Strizic on the outside and from the second row. Strizic also strung a couple of good serving runs together in the match.
“I felt we were getting up there and getting touches and giving our defense a shot,” Hancock said, motioning to describe the Maroons trying to leap and tiptoe to combat the better height Corvallis enjoyed. “I felt good about where we were playing. Against a stronger team tonight, I do feel we were too consistent in a lot of areas.”
The Blue Devils were a squad unlike any or many the BC girls see during a season. Hancock agreed the temptation for Butte Central’s players would’ve been to abandon the plan and try to just duel in free lance. However, the Maroons stayed discipline and adjusted ways to try to make the game plan work.
“We have to figure out a way to hit it out and create some holes for ourselves (to hit into),” Hancock said about potentially facing Corvallis or other top teams down the road. “We’re great servers and I felt our serving was there tonight. (The Blue Devils) are just a strong team. It was hard for us to get over their blocks.”
“Our defense was there. They just had so many good hitters.”
The Blue Devils improved to 11-1 with the win. Their defensive leaders included Evans with five blocks and libero Casey Fison with 25 digs. Setter Hannah Martin put up 26 assists.
Butte Central has an 8-3 overall record and 5-3 in conference. The Maroons will play host to their annual Blocktoberfest Classic on Saturday in the MAC. Their attack was led on Tuesday by Strizic with six kills and setter Emma Keeley with 17 assists. Mueller served two aces. Libero Sophia Burton paced the floor defense with 15 digs, and Strizic scooped 14.
Corvallis def. Butte Central 25-15, 25-17, 25-13.
KILLS — Corvallis 33 (Maureen Jessop 14), BC 18 (Cassidy Strizic 6, Allyson Mueller 4, Marissa Anderson 4, Avery Kelly 3, Amira Bolton 1). ACES — Corvallis 3 (Kaitlin Irwin 2), BC 3 (Mueller 2, Strizic 1). ASSISTS — Corvallis 29 (Hannah Martin 26), BC 18 (Emma Keeley 17, Kelly 1). DIGS — Corvallis 49 (Casey Fison 25), BC 56 (Sophia Burton 15, Strizic 14, Keeley 11, Kelly 8, Sophie Sullivan 3, Bolton 2, Anderson 2, Mueller 1). BLOCKS — Corvallis 6 (Isabel Evans 5), BC 1 (Mueller).