By Bruce Sayler
The rotation didn’t matter at all to Alivia Williams.
The Frenchtown star exploited Butte Central’s defense from every spot on the floor in a 25-21, 25-19, 25-16 sweep over the Maroons Thursday night. The Southwestern A Conference match, BC’s first of the season, was held in the Maroon Activities Center.
“They had her (Williams) and we couldn’t stop her,” Butte Central head coach Becky Hancock said. “We couldn’t get a block on her to shut her down and she picked apart our defense. We have to improve our blocking. We were late on the block. We didn’t finish tonight. If we could’ve figured out a way to shut her down, we would’ve been able to finish.”
The 5-foot-10 Frenchtown senior collected 12 kills, a block, five digs and fired an ace serve in leading the Broncs to their win.
The senior-laden Frenchtown side benefitted from its good players and their experience. The younger Maroons, who put four freshmen, and started three, on the court have yet to develop the instincts needed to face off squarely against such an opponent.
Hancock agreed the inexperience is a hindrance, but not enough for an excuse.
“The experience excuse is out the window,” she said. “Because we’re right there. It takes time and (the Maroons) are working their butts off. They worked their butts off tonight in this match, too. We just haven’t learned how to win yet.”
That lesson is due anytime, the coach indicated.
The first game against Frenchtown was almost it. The BC girls built an 18-11 lead, four of the points on a serving run by Cassidy Strizic that included two aces. A couple sideouts followed, then libero Maddy Boller toed the service line for the Broncs. Her team doubled its score to set point 24-19 as she served for 11 straight points. Williams had a hard kill, a block and a tip to spark the run. Her tip brought set point. Frenchtown committed two errors before Williams killed the last point.
“We have some weak rotations and are letting teams back in,” Hancock said. “We need to improve on those to not let that happen. There’s so much for them to learn, but once it clicks for them, it’s really going to click.”
The Maroons held a 10-6 edge in the second game after a Frenchtown try sailed wide of the court. The Broncs rebounded and pulled even at 11-all on a — you guessed it — Williams kill. They got the lead for good at 14-13 on a setter’s dump shot by Kylie Willett and steadily pulled away. A Willett kill made the score set point, 24-19, and then Morgan Snow spiked the kill to finish.
The Maroons surged out ahead 4-0 behind sophomore Emma Keeley’s serving in the third game. Three points were scored on Frenchtown errors and the other came up on a block by senior Olivia Bolton and freshman Allyson Mueller. Willett aced twice after the next sideout and Frenchtown was back in the lead on a run started by Williams’ block and a Snow kill. The set remained close, though, but BC never regained the lead. A Williams serving run opened a five-point difference and Maroon errors took the tally to match point at 24-16. Emilie Hinrichs aced the last serve.
“It’s an improvement,” Hancock said. “We’re 0-3, but we’re improving. It’s all there (for the Maroons to be successful).”
Strizic led the BC offense with five kills and Keeley set 10 assists. Mueller posted two blocks and freshman libero Sophia Burton bumped up 11 of the team’s 69 digs. Serving was a Butte Central strength as it totaled nine aces, including four by Strizic and three by Burton.
Hinrichs belted seven kills to back Williams for Frenchtown. Willett had three aces and 35 assists. She also posted three blocks. Boller notched 14 digs.
Butte Central will be home against Hamilton on Saturday in a 4 p.m. Southwestern A match in the MAC.
Frenchtown def. Butte Central 25-21, 25-19, 25-16.
KILLS — Frenchtown 36 (Alivia Williams 12, Emilie Hinrichs 7, Jessie Willis 5, Morgan Snow 5, Kylie Willett 4, Maggie Kaiser 3). BC 13 (Cassidy Strizic 5, Allyson Mueller 3, Olivia Bolton 2, Amira Bolton 1, Kassidy Criscuolo 1, Chelsey McGree 1). ASSISTS — Frenchtown 36 (Willett 35, Maddy Boller 1), BC 15 (Emma Keeley 10, O. Bolton 5). ACES — Frenchtown 6 (Willett 3, Hinrichs 1, Boller 1, Snow 1), BC 9 (Strizic 4, Sophia Burton 3, Keeley 1, Criscuolo 1). DIGS — Frenchtown 59 (Boller 14, Kaiser 9, Snow 9, Hinrichs 8, Cassidy Moen 6, Williams 5, Taylor Garren 4, Claire Bagnell 2, Willett 2), BC (69 (Burton 11, O. Bolton 8, Criscuolo 8, Zoe Sullivan 6, Keeley 4, Sophie Sullivan 3, McGree 1, Marissa Anderson 1). BLOCKS — Frenchtown 5 (Willett 3, Williams 1, Snow 1), BC 2 (Mueller 2).