Bulldogs come back on Dillon

The wake-up call delivered by Class A member Dillon was an effective slap felt by Class AA Butte High in non-conference high school girls’ volleyball Thursday night in the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym.

Dillon rode an accurate front line and a strong set-and-hit game to throw a scare into the Bulldogs before being overtaken by the home team, 23-25, 25-12, 25-22, 25-15.

The match saw unusual volleys that ricocheted off the ceiling and wide, sweeping momentum swings. Mistakes often stalled play. Butte High’s big loss, though, occurred during pre-match warmups when 6-foot-2 sophomore Brianna O’Mara suffered a knee injury. She was taken from the court by trainers and later returned to the bench on crutches. She was unable to play.

Bulldog head coach Dale Burgman said O’Mara, a strong part of the team’s block alignment, will be examined on Monday to determine the seriousness of the injury.

It was the most unfortunate of all the unplanned events of play on Thursday.

“This might have been the strangest match I ever saw,“ Burgman said, noting, too, that the injury to O’Mara also left the Bulldogs short on the bench, resulting in an odd rotation problem.

“Two rotations, we had Haley Henderson, our 4-foot-11 backup libero, playing in the middle of the front row,“ Burgman said. “I was stalling to try to do something else and was wondering how we could pull that off.“

Overall, though, the coach liked how the match finished.

“I thought it was pretty good,” Burgman said of the Bulldogs’ play. “I thought we hit pretty well. I thought McKaul Ori did a great job. She served so well. When we really needed a point, it seemed she was able to get it for us with her serve. I also thought tonight was her best setting game this year  and I thought she really had a good defensive game.”

Baylee Thatcher’s wallop shown on the jump serve was also cited by Burgman, as was her serving. Team leaders included  Ori with five aces and 21 assists, Carlie Haeffner with 14 kills and four blocks, and  Sammy McGree with 15 digs. Hattie Thatcher came up with 11 digs at libero, including a lunging, diving scoop that kept a Butte High rally alive for point in the fourth game.

Dillon leaders included Jacki Richardson with 32 assists, Taryn Judge with 24 digs, Whitney Southam with 12 kills, and Josee Pendleton with four blocks and two aces.

“We made too many errors,” Jenny Peterson, head coach of the Beavers, said. “But our kids played tough.”

They did — especially in the first game.

It was a back-and-forth set with the teams tied four times and neither leading by more than four points. Dillon snapped a 19-all deadlock with a Pendleton kill and increased the margin by another point on a shot by Kacee Williams. The Beavers stayed a bit ahead the rest of the way, gaining game point at 24-21 on  a Butte High hitting error. Three serves later, Courtney Linder ended the set with a kill for Dillon.

The Bulldogs regrouped and went on the attack in the second game. Buckley served a six-point run that included two of her aces as Butte High snared a 9-3 advantage. Haeffner and Ori also put together good runs, and Haeffner and Baylee Thatcher boomed some scoring shots. A bump by Hattie Thatcher found open floor on Dillon’s side of the net, scoring game point for the Bulldogs. Haeffner then hammered a kill, squaring the set score at a game apiece.

Haeffner served out the third game, taking over serve with Butte High trailing the Beavers by a 22-20 count. Three straight Dillon hitting errors put the Bulldogs ahead before McGree got a kill for Butte High when her shot skipped off and over the top of the net. Haeffner aced the set-ending serve.

Richardson had led the Beavers’ efforts in the game with a seven-point serving run that took the team to an 11-9 edge on the Bulldogs. Dillon put up a strong block in the contest on the efforts of Pendleton, Southam and Taylor Chase. Butte High didn’t lead until Haeffner’s run.

The Bulldogs took the fourth-game lead for good at 4-3 on Buckley’s third ace. Butte High steadily pulled away as McGree found the range for four kills and Haeffner led the effort at the net, both offensively and defensively.

Butte High def. Dillon 23-25, 25-12, 25-22, 25-15

KILLS —Dillon 36 (Whitney Southam 12, Josee Pendleton 10, Courtney Linder 6, Taylor Chase 6, Cierra Lamey 1, Allie McGrath 1), Butte High 36 (Carlie Haeffner 14, Baylee Thatcher 7, Sammy McGree 7, Jessie Buckley 5, Hattie Thatcher 1, Rachel Anderson 1, McKaul Ori 1). ASSISTS—Dillon 34 (Jacki Richardson 32, Allie Morstein 1, McGrath 1), Butte High 31 (Ori 21, B. Thatcher 9, H. Thatcher 1). ACES — Dillon 3 (Pendleton 2, Holly Andersen 1), Butte High 12 (Ori 5, Buckley 3, Haeffner 2, B. Thatcher 1, McGree 1).  DIGS — Dillon 50 (Taryn Judge 24, Chase 6, Morstein 5, Richardson 4, Linder 4, Williams 3, Lamey 1, Pendleton 1,  McGrath 1, Audrey Schurg 1), Butte High 49 (McGree 15, H. Thatcher 11, Buckley 9, Ori 7, Haeffner 4, B. Thatcher 3). BLOCKS — Dillon 6 (Pendleton 4, McGrath 1, Chase 1), Butte High 8 (Haeffner 4, Buckley 2, McGree 1, Anderson 1).

Carlie Haeffner, left, and Baylee Thatcher go up for a block.