The sides were hard to assess following their performances Friday in the Butte High girls’ volleyball scrimmage.
The scene was muddled for head coach Dale Burgman by a not-very-veteran varsity team taking on an even lesser experienced junior varsity squad in the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym. The 17-25, 25-16, 15-11 varsity win was complicated by the first-game loss to the upset-minded jayvees.
“That showed we are not an experienced, well-oiled team,” Burgman said. “We made unforced errors and mistakes one after another. We need somebody to step in and pick us up and get us back (on track).
“The first game really showed that. Also, in that first game, the jayvees played very well.”
The Thatcher sisters, Hattie, a senior, and Baylee, a junior, keyed the eventual varsity victory with important serving runs in the tie-breaker game of the match shortened to five sets for this scrimmage day occasion.
The junior varsity, though, with Burgman’s daughter, Brianna Barsness, in the pilot’s seat as coach, let the first-teamers know this match was going to be competitive. Sophomore Amanda Spear served the JV out to a 3-0 lead and the squad never trailed in the game. The junior vasity capitalized on the varsity’s mistakes and some timely hitting by Ashten McCloskey and Brittney Plum to maintain a lead.
Megan Komm scored on a block and by poaching a floater as the jayvees built their lead to 22-14,
A Bethany McLean block made it 23-17 and then sophomore Bryanna Armstrong hammered home two ace serves to finish the game one upset.
The steamed varsity never trailed in the second game. Serving runs by Jessie Buckley and Sammy McGree helped construct a 16-9 command. Carlie Haeffner and Brianna O’Mara were strong at the net. A Hattie Thatcher ace brought game point at 24-15 and O’Mara insured the win with a kill two serves later.
So, the third game was close. Baylee Thatcher served the varsity ahead to 11-7 from being behind by 7-6. She fired three aces — one down the side, one short and one deep, Burgman noted — during the run. Kills by McGree and Rachel Anderson added to the run.
The JV closed to within 12-10 on varsity mistakes as McCloskey served. Armstrong had a kill for the ninth point.
O’Mara and Anderson both spiked kills to bring the varsity to 14-11 and game point. Hattie Thatcher jump-served an ace to end the scrimmage.
Burgman praised, in particular, the play of the Thatchers, Haeffner, McGree, Ori, Jessie Buckley and Anderson.
That the reserve squad put up such resistance might be a good sign for the Bulldogs.
“I hope it means we have good depth,” Burgman yielded, still looking to tag a grade to the scrimmage performance. “We’ve still got a long way to go.”
The Bulldogs are to open their season at home on Aug. 31 against Billings Skyview in Eastern AA Conference play.