By Bill Foley
Butte High couldn’t have started out any better Friday night.
The Bulldogs scored the first seven points of their Eastern AA volleyball match against Bozeman at the Richardson Gym.
That early momentum, though, disappeared nearly as fast as it started as the Hawks battled back for a 25-22, 25-16, 25-17 victory.
“We did compete,” Butte High coach Katrina Berg said. “We could have competed a lot better.”
With Bethanney Foley at the serving line and 6-foot-1 sophomore Kira Mortensen dominating at the net, the Bulldogs looked unstoppable for the first few minutes.
Bozeman, though, battled back from that 7-0 hole by scoring 15 of the next 17 points.
The Hawks, who improved to 4-2 in league play, held a comfortable margin for most of the next two sets.
The telling stat of the night was kills. The Hawks put 43 spikes to the floor to Butte High’s 18.
Mara Lynch, a 5-9 junior outside hitter, tallied 12 kills to lead the balanced Hawk attack. Bella Wanderer, Angelle Diamond and Zoe Waddell each registered eight kills.
Mortensen spiked eight kills to go along with seven blocks to lead the Bulldogs, who fell to 2-4 in conference and 2-8 overall.
“She’s quick, she gets to the ball, and she gets up in the air,” Berg said of Mortensen. “She shuts a lot of people down in the front. Emma (Field) is getting there, too. She’s just got to get a little more experience on the varsity floor.”
Field, also a 6-1 sophomore, joined junior Brittney Tierney with three kills in the loss.
Foley dished up 10 assists to go along with four digs and three aces for the Bulldogs, while libero Keeley Pochervina hit the floor for 12 digs. Tierney and Jenna Maroney collected six digs apiece, while Tierney served four aces.
Berg said her team battled to the end, but it didn’t put together a complete match.
“We got killed on some defensive things, some mental errors,” the coach said. “We didn’t run anything. We practice plays all the time, and we just weren’t running anything. That was killing us. They could read where we were going.”
Butte High heads to Great Falls High for a match on Tuesday. Berg said she likes the direction of her team.
“They’ve made so much progress since last year. They’ve made mounds of progress,” Berg said. “We’re right in there with everybody in our conference. Everybody is pretty even.”
Bozeman def. Butte High 25-22, 25-16, 25-17
Kills — Bozeman 43 (Mara Lynch 12, Bella Wanderer 8, Angelle Diamond 8, Zoe Waddell 8), Butte 18 (Kira Mortensen 8, Emma Field 3, Brittney Tierney 3, Alissa Bernhardt 1, Baylee Leary 1, Bethanney Foley 1, Cameron Cassidy 1). Assists — Bozeman 40 (Cassie Rosa 36), Butte 14 (Foley 10, Sidney Christie 4). Blocks — Bozeman 2 (Four with 1), Butte 9 (Mortensen 7, Cassidy 2). Aces — Bozeman 5 (Ayla Embry 2), Butte 8 (Tierney 4, Foley 3, Leary 1). Digs — Bozeman 38 (Embry 16, Wanderer 7, Lynch 6), Butte 36 (Keeley Pochervina 12, Tierney 6, Jenna Maroney 6, Foley 4, Bernhardt 3, Mortensen 3, Cassidy 1, Christie 1).