By Bruce Sayler
The Broncs’ hitting attack led by 5-foot-9 freshman blaster Rachel Walls along with 5-9 senior Bella Powell, 5-7 freshman Blake Hardy, 5-10 senior Analiese Martin and 5-9 senior Carah Evans smoked shot after shot at Butte Central Saturday and swept the Maroons 25-18, 25-16, 25-17 in a Southwestern A Conference high school girls’ volleyball match at the Maroon Activities Center (MAC).
“They’re a very good hitting team,” BC head coach Becky Hancock said. “I thought we did a very good job getting hands on their shots and a good job on soft touches to slow down the balls. But, we couldn’t keep up.
“(The Broncs) were being more aggressive than we were. They were putting balls away and we weren’t.”
Frenchtown’s barrage counted 36 kills, 13 of them by the high-leaping, whip-armed Walls. Butte-rooted junior setter Addi Romine distributed all 33 assists.
“We dug up the ball well, I thought,” Hancock said. “Defensively, we did what we could.”
The Maroons have been out sick for most of the last two weeks with a bug that has run through the team. Hancock said it wasn’t an excuse, though.
The Broncs were on a match-long hot streak and there was no dousing it.
Butte Central grabbed the first lead of the match. Senior Ella Moodry nailed a kill and sophomore Arika Stajcar scored a tip for a 2-0 edge. After Walls smashed a kill for Frenchtown, the Maroons answered with a slap from Moodry that cleared the net and found the floor. Moodry aced a serve and BC owned a 5-1 margin before the Broncs hit back.
Frenchtown caught at 8-all on a kill by Powell and went ahead 9-8 on an ace by libero McKenna Kreis. The Broncs steadily grew their lead and it reached set point at 24-14 on another Kreis ace. Maybe overanxious to end the set, the Broncs suffered some hitting woes with three errors and Butte Central tallied, too, on an ace by Kathryn Lalicker.
Hardy’s tip off a Romine set ended the set.
Frenchtown led all the way in game two. The Maroons gave up possession and a point on a net serve and the Broncs reeled off seven straight points. An ace by Romine and kills by Evans and Walls carried the run. The difference reached 10 points, 22-12, on a Walls spike. Walls’ kill from the back row a few serves later put set point at 24-16. A BC shot past the end line finished the set.
The third game was most competitive. Butte Central tried to dig deep on defense and in emotion and played its best game of the match. The Maroons led 6-4 after two straight Frenchtown errors and didn’t give up the up the edge until a kill by Walls was followed by two from Powell. The Broncs were ahead 7-6 and maintained.
However, the BC girls stayed within four points of their opponents until it became a 20-15 set on a Hardy tip. The match point score was 24-17 after Frenchtown responded to a Moodry kill with a resounding one from Walls. Romine capped the day with a fake set she dumped over the net instead.
“We’ll practice what we need to work on,” Hancock said. “We’ll work on our front-line area. We have a big tournament coming up and we will work on what we can do. Little things are catching up to us.
“We have to eliminate unforced errors and control what we can control.”
Moodry smashed seven of Butte Central’s 13 kills, Lalicker led the team in aces with two and posted the Maroons’ only block, Mollie Drew had 10 assists and libero Kate Johnston came up with 20 digs and.
The BC team will play host to its Blocktoberfest volleyball tournament next weekend with matches set to be played in the MAC, Butte Civic Center and Montana Tech HPER Complex.
Frenchtown def. Butte Central 25-18, 25-16, 25-17.
KILLS – Frenchtown 36 (Rachel Walls 13), BC 13 (Ella Moodry 7, Arika Stajcar 3, Lucy Kelly 1, Kathryn Lalicker 1, Mollie Drew 1). ASSISTS – Frenchtown 33 (Addi Romine 33), BC 13 (Drew 10, Scottie Combs 3). ACES – Frenchtown 6 (McKenna Kreis 3), BC 4 (Lalicker 2, Moodry 1, Irelyn Crossman 1). DIGS – Frenchtown 75 (Kreis 18), BC 49 (Kate Johnston 20, Moodry 8, Ali Stajcar 6, Lalicker 6, Drew 6, Kelly 1, Crossman 1, Combs 1). BLOCKS – Frenchtown 6 (Blake Hardy 4), BC 1 (Lalicker).