By Bruce Sayler
Butte High has started answering an earlier alarm, but not enough to get the head start on volleyball opponents – yet.
The Bulldogs fell in four sets to probable Western AA Conference contender, maybe even favorite, Glacier of Kalispell at Butte High’s Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym on Saturday. There was no constant found in the scores – 25-14, 25-19, 29-31, 25-8 – and Bulldog head coach Shane Jorgensen said it was indicative.
“We’re starting to now get our heads into the game earlier,” he said. “(The Glacier Wolfpack) are one of the top teams in our conference and now our girls might know they can hang with them and win a couple of games.”
The Bulldogs won one Saturday. It was a battle, too.
After Glacier cruised, 25-14 and 25-19, the Wolfpack looked headed for a sweep. They built a 10-3 advantage as Haven Speer served three aces in an early 6-0 serving run. Hard hitters Sarah Downs and Jaidyn Pevey notched a spat of kills.
Butte High found a stubbornness and rotated senior Maddie Luedtke to the serving line trailing 10-4. The Bulldogs shrunk the gap to a point, 10-9, as Glacier committed three hitting errors and Butte High also scored on a Mickenzie McIntyre kill and a Brityn Stewart tip.
Glacier led most of the rest of the way, but not by comfortable margins. Butte High tied at 17-all on a Luedtke kill that crawled over the net, and grabbed an 18-17 edge on a Sophia Gransbery kill. The teams traded points with six more ties to 24-all, Butte High erasing Glacier’s set point with a McIntyre kill and going to extra serves. The point-trading continued to 29-all after a tip by the Wolfpack’s Leila Major kept the Bulldogs from scoring the winner.
It was a postponement. Bulldog Jaycee Cleveland poked a tip that Glacier whacked wide for a one-point, 30-29, Butte High edge. The Wolfpack then were called for being in the net and Butte High had the 31-29 set win, but still trailed 2-1 in the match score.
“We tried a new lineup tonight and I think it worked better,” Jorgensen said “I think we were getting into it better.”
The third-set comeback might have taken too much out of the Bulldogs, however.
The Wolfpack retook the momentum at the start and built a 14-4 command with strong play at the net. Glacier maintained the margin to 18-8 and then Madeline Davis served out for punctuation. Natalie Herne tallied two kills around one by Major. Speer tacked one on before Davis fired two aces to put the contest in match point. Glacier converted on a Major kill.
Jorgensen said the Bulldogs, traditionally much shorter than their Class AA opponents, are learning to compensate with quickness and anticipation.
“What we lack for in height, we’re starting to make up for in other areas,” he said. “I think our setting has gotten better and our serving is spot-on. And, we’ve worked so hard on our passing, it’s starting to pay off. It opens our offense more.
“But, it all starts with touches and blocks on the front line. Without them, our passing isn’t as good.”
Downs led Glacier and all hitters with 16 kills and Speer set 40 kills. Majors had four blocks. Wolfpack servers notched 10 aces. Kennedee Moore led their floor defense with 20 digs.
Luedtke led Butte High with 11 kills and an ace. Taylor Drakos and McIntyre each served an ace. Cleveland and Cadence Graham set 11 assists each. Cleveland had 21 digs.
Butte High fell to Flathead of Kalispell on Friday night in three close games. The scores were 25-21, 25-17, 25-17. Bulldog leaders were Cleveland with two aces and 17 assists, Luedtke with 10 kills and MacKenzie Hansen with 18 digs.
Butte High will be home on a Tuesday for a 7 p.m. Western AA match against Helena Capital, then Is to play at Helena High on Thursday.
Kalispell Glacier def. Butte High 25-14, 25-19, 29-31, 25-8.
KILLS – Glacier 44 (Sarah Downs 16), Butte High 33 (Maddie Luedtke 11, Mickenze McIntyre 8, Brityn Stewart 4, Sophia Gransbery 4, Jaycee Cleveland 3, Mackenzie Hansen 1, Taylor Drakos 1, Mylee Demarais 1). ASSISTS – Glacier 40 (Haven Speer 40), Butte High 27 (Cadence Graham 11, Cleveland 11, Hansen 4, Drakos 1). ACES – Glacier 10 (No leader reported), Butte High 3 (Luedtke 1, Drakos 1, McIntyre 1). DIGS – Glacier 67 (Kennedee Moore 20), Butte High 70 (Cleveland 21, Stewart 11, Luedtke 10, Hansen 9, Drakos 9, Graham 6, McIntyre 6, Gransbery 3). BLOCKS – Glacier 6 (Leila Major 4), Butte 4 (Luedtke 2, Stewart 1, Demarais 1).
Kalispell Flathead def. Butte High 25-21, 25-17, 25-17.
Note – Flathead stats n/a/
KILLS – Butte High 29 (Maddie Luedtke 10, Mickenzie McIntyre 8, Cadence Graham 3,Brityn Stewart 3, Jaycee Cleveland 2, Mylee Demarais 2, Taylor Drakos 1). ASSISTS – 18 (Cleveland 17, Mackenzie Hansen 1). ACES – 4 (Cleveland 2, Graham 1, Hansen 1). DIGS – 61 (Hansen 18, Graham 9, Drakos 9, Cleveland 9,Stewart 6, McIntyre 5, Luedtke 4, Demarais 1). BLOCKS – 2 (Luedtke 1, Stewart 1).