Coming off its first match loss of the year, Butte Central had to battle to survive a five-set test against neighborhood rival Anaconda Saturday in a cross-class non-conference high school girls’ volleyball match played in the Maroon Activities Center (MAC).
The scorers were 25-12, 21-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-13 in the back-and-forth competition between rivals. Anaconda joined Class B this school year after many years as a regular Class A foe of the Maroons, mostly in conference play but not always.
“It’s been a long week,” BC head coach Becky Hancock said after her team completed a stretch that included putting on its own all-day tournament last Saturday, playing host to defending state Class A champion Belgrade on Tuesday and playing at league contender Corvallis on Thursday before Saturday’s match. “But, that’s no excuse. We were sluggish today, we were not moving our feet on defense. We were not doing the things that we had been doing well.
“We came away with a win, but we didn’t play like we’re capable of. Anaconda put a great game together and came after us.”
The road trip to Corvallis resulted in a five-set loss, the first of the season for Butte Central in regular match play.Anaconda’s only loss coming in had been to District 6-B rival Florence.
A four-point serving run by junior Emily St. John proved to be the key element in the tie-breaker for Butte Central. She went to the line with Anaconda holding a 10-8 lead and two Copperhead miscues, a net violation and shot over the end line, tied the score. The Maroons took the lead on a tip by Teresa Piazzola and finished the run on a kill by Sierra Pica before Anaconda got a sideout on a kill by Julianna Hartwell. They traded points on two errors and a Pica kill. After a Butte Central serve missed long, and the score 14-13 in BC’s favor, Corbyn Holm pasted a kill to end the match.
Butte Central was methodical in its first-game victory. The Maroons took the lead for good at 3-2 on a serve-in-the-net by Anaconda and built the margin by small increments. Emily St. John toed the service line for BC with a 12-6 lead and served a seven-point run. St. John opened it and closed it with ace serves and Teresa Piazzola nailed a pair of kills. A stuff block by Lacey McGree put up game point at 24-8, but the Copperheads fought it off for four serves and a side-out before falling to a Piazzola kill.
Anaconda used the momentum of closing well in the first set as a springboard for the win in the second. The Copperheads got the lead at 10-8 non a kill by Molly Huber and built on it. Another kill by Huber, on a shot that rolled along the top of the net before dropping, made it a 19-14 score. Anaconda pressed to set point at 24-20 on a kill by Kassandra Flores. After BC answered with a Ryan Trudnowski kill, the Copperheads finished the game on a kill by Huber.
The third game was a three- or four-point differential most of the way with Butte Central controlling the lead. Anaconda closed to within 18-17 after a Maroon’s serve tangled in the net. However, St. John placed a tip for BC’s next point and McGree put down a kill. Holm was serving for Butte Central and Piazzola and McGree notched kills just before Holm hit an ace. A double-hit charged the Copperheads brought game point. A kill by Shea Forsberg delayed end-of-set until a carry call went against Anaconda for the last point.
Anaconda led much of the fourth game, going ahead early 4-0 on a serving run by Bailee Oxnam. Butte Central stayed close and the teams were neck-and-neck as they headed into the stretch. The Copperheads lost a point on a scoring adjustment, and a serving run by the Maroons’ Mollie Peoples. The Peoples run put BC ahead 21-19. Butte Central held a 23-22 edge and was two points away from ending the match when a Maroons’ shot traveled long to tie the sxore. Huber hammered a kill on a 50-50 ball for Anaconda and the Copperheads were at game point. A spike attempt by BC missed wide and Anaconda had tied the match.
Piazzola had 15 kills and Pica 12 to lead the Butte Central attack. Peoples, the libero, scooped 26 digs, Piazzola pounded a pair of aces, St. John set all 44 team assists and Trudnowski posted four blocks.
Anaconda leaders were Oxnam with six aces and 26 assists, Huber with 14 kills and 16 digs, Flores with 11 kills and three blocks and Libby Jorgensen with 15 digs.
Butte Central is 11-1 for the season with a week to play before divisional tournaments. The Maroons will be home against Stevensville in a conference match on Tuesday.
“Stevensville is a huge game,” Hancock said. “Monday, we’ll have to come ready for practice and to be the team we want to be. We need to be strong and tough, right now.
“We struggled with our serving tonight and our serve-receive was pretty much not there, either.”
Butte Central def. Anaconda 25-12, 21-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-13.
KILLS — Anaconda 46 (Molly Huber 14, Kassandra Flores 11, Michaela Cortright 6, Bailee Oxnam 5, Randee Jo Johnson 4, Shea Forsberg 4, Felicity Kulaski 1, Julianna Hartwell 1), Butte Central 53 (Teresa Piazzola 15, Sierra Pica 12, Corbyn Holm 8, Lacey McGree 8, Emily St. John 5, Ryan Trudnowski 6). ASSISTS — Anaconda 36 (B. Oxnam 26, Kulaski 9, Johnson 1), Butte Central 44 (St. John 44). ACES — Anaconda 7 (B. Oxnam 6, Kulaski 1), Butte Central 5 (Piazzola 2, St. John 1, Holm 1, Taylor Wahl 1). DIGS — Anaconda 59 (Libby Jorgensen 16, Molly Huber 15, Kelsie Oxnam 7, B. Oxnam 5, Kulaski 5, Forsberg 4, Flores 3 Johnson 3, Cortright 1), Butte Central 95 (Mollie Peoples 26, St. John 15, Piazzola 15, Wahl 14, Shawnee Hjelt 10, Holm 7, McKenzie Gallagher 4, Pica 2, McGree 1, Trudnowski 1). BLOCKS — Anaconda 5 (Flores 3, Huber 1, Johnson 1, Forsberg 1), Butte Central 11 (Trudnowski 4, Pica 3, McGree 3, Kylee O’Herron 1).