By Bruce Sayler
Head coach Becky Hancock of Butte Central high school volleyball said she “had a feeling” a win wasn’t going to be so easy.
She was right.
The Maroons cruised past Southwestern A Conference opponent Frenchtown 25-7 in their first set, then fought for their lives. The Broncs scrapped back for a 27-25 second-game win before the BC girls squeaked out 27-25 and 25-23 wins in the last two sets to capture the match.
“Offensively, (the Broncs) started hitting the ball and, defensively, they were digging out everything we were throwing at them,” Hancock said. “It was a defensive battle all the way. Thankfully, our serving came back to us the last two sets.
“I thought it was going to be a lot different. We did come out strong and Frenchtown then made their adjustments and made a game of it the last three sets.”
After Butte Central dominated on the Maroon Activities Center court for the first set, the Broncs effectively regrouped and recharged.
Two points was the widest margin between the two teams at any part of the second set. They were last tied at 25-all after trading miscues. The tie sent the set into extra serves. Toni Beatty broke it with a kill for Frenchtown and then teammate Bella Powell fired a kill to end the set and square the match score at a game apiece.
A similar tempo governed the third set. Neither team led by more than three points as they competed to a 25-all tie again, bringing on post-regulation play. Kinley Hamilton’s block for the Maroons created the tie. The Broncs hit a shot too long, giving BC set point. Butte Central cashed in the opportunity with a shot by Ella Moodry that a Frenchtown digger inadvertently bounced off the face of another Broncs player.
The fourth game was more of much the same. The teams took turns building small leads early, no margins growing to more than four points. They were tied at 23-all after an exchange of bad serves. Another one by Frenchtown crossed sides under the net and set the Maroons up with match point. They got help. A Bronc hitter tangled her shot in the net and BC had a hard-earned conference win.
“It came down to being a defensive battle,” a relieved Hancock said. “And it was our serving, too, the last two games, especially in the fourth game.
“What I do like about these kind of games is the poise our girls show. When it was 23-23, they were still staying in there. They could’ve been maybe a little more aggressive in the second game and maybe a little smarter in the second game, too.”
The Butte Central depth is growing in experience, if not in numbers. Hancock noted she suits only 10 players every game, rotating the four non-starters into the lineup to spell the regulars.
Butte Central held a “Pink-Out” rally to raise funds for fighting cancer during the Saturday match in honor of Cancer Awareness Month and to benefit cancer patient Abby Ricketts, a Butte teenager battling cancer.
The Maroons belted 38 kills with Moodry nailing 13 to lead the team in its successful match. Brooke Badovinac and Sofee Thatcher each pounded 11. Mia Keeley served four aces and Thatcher collected three. Keeley also dealt 34 assists. The digs leaders in the floor defense were Thatcher with 25, Maycee Anderson with 18 and Brenna Foley with 10. At the net, Thatcher posted three blocks.
The win was the Maroons’ fourth in a row. They will play host to their Blocktoberfest tournament next weekend in the MAC and the Civic Center.
Frenchtown leaders included Isabelle Cahall with four aces and 20 assists, Cassidy Bagnell with 31 digs, Carah Evans with 11 kills, and Demi Smith with five blocks.
Butte Central def. Frenchtown 25-7, 25-27, 27-25, 25-23
KILLS – Frenchtown 35 (Carah Evans 11, Toni Beatty 7, Demi Smith 7, Bella Powell 5, Emily Rehbein 2, Sadie Smith 2, Cassidy Bagnell 1), BC 38 (Ella Moodry 13, Brooke Badovinac 11, Sofee Thatcher 11, Kinley Hamilton 3). ASSISTS – Frenchtown 33 (Isabelle Cahall 20, Abby Faulhaber 13), BC 36 (Mia Keeley 34, Mollie Drew 2). ACES – Frenchtown 8 (Cahall 4, Rehbein 2, Kaylyn Kolar 1, D. Smith 1). BC 8 (Keeley 4, Thatcher 3, Maycee Anderson 1). DIGS – Frenchtown 57 (Bagnell 31, Chloe Houlihan 15, Cahall 11, Kolar 9, D. Smith 5, Rehbein 3, Beatty 2, Evans 1, S. Smith 1), BC 73 (Thatcher 25, Anderson 18, Brenna Folehy 10, Payton Hartwick 8, Keeley 5, Moodry 3, Badovinac 2, Drew 1, Hamilton 1). BLOCKS – Frenchtown 15 (D. Smith 5, S. Smith 4, Beatty 3, Rehbein 2, Powell 1), BC6 (Thatcher 3, Moodry 1, Keeley 1, Hamilton 1) .