Maroons spike Devils in five-set thriller

By Bruce Sayler 

Butte Central head coach Becky Hancock wasn’t sure about when the last time the Maroons beat perennial Class A power Corvallis in high school volleyball. It had been a while. 

Whatever the streak was, it was almost continued Saturday until BC awoke from a two-game deficit and upset the Blue Devils 12-25, 15-25, 25-14, 25-23, 15-11 in the Maroon Activities Center. 

“It was a fun game to watch with the girls coming back from two games down,” Hancock said after remarking the Butte Central girls almost gave her “a heart attack.” “That was Corvallis’ first conference loss. That was a true testament today to the kind of team our girls are. We beat Dillon on the road earlier in the week and then came back against a great Corvallis team and won.” 

Confidence soared for the Maroons in the tiebreaker game after they pulled out a slim 25-23 slim victory in the fourth set to tie the match score at two sets apiece. The only times they trailed in the fifth was at 1-0 after being called for a double-hit, and then late in the tie-breaker only to cause some drama. 

Ella Moodry dropped home a tip to tie the score and then Corvallis suffered two errors that allowed BC to build a 3-1 edge. Brooke Badovinac followed with another scoring tip for Butte Central and teammate Maycee “Acey” Anderson belted an ace serve. The Maroons were in front by 5-1. 

The Blue Devils refused to fold, however. They lurked closely and a Madison Lewis kill brought them to within a point, 10-9. Shot-blisterer Madeline Gilder blasted a kill and the set was tied. A net violation whistled against Butte Central gave Corvallis an 11-10 edge. Moodry slammed a kill to re-tie the score at 11-all, and then a slew of Blue Devil errors decided the outcome. 

A Corvallis shot tangled in the net to put BC back in the lead at 12-11, and Maroon middle blocker Kinley Hamilton notched a block. A Corvallis shot sailed wide of the court to bring match point. Another flew over the end line and the Maroons’ victory was in the books. 

“It was really exciting,” Badovinac said. “We weren’t really sure what the outcome was going to be after being down two games. We just gave it our all and kicked their buns. 

“We didn’t know if we’d be able to win it. We just went out there and played our hardest. After winning the third game, we knew we had the ability to win it all. It came together for us and our confidence came together.” 

The gelling was an over-time development as the match progressed, Hancock said. 

“The serving came along, the blocking came along and the defense came along,” she said. “After the first game, we talked about self-discipline – being smart and controlling the ball so we could control the game. The second game, it started coming piece-by-piece, but not enough to win. 

“The third game – then, it started clicking.” 

The Blue Devils were dominant the first two sets and looked like they were going to wrap up the day in a hurry. They scored the first three points of the day in a hot start. After gaining their 10-point command at 22-12, they held serve and reached set point at 24-12 on a kill by Paige Colaprete. Tylin Sorensen boomed a kill and Corvallis won the first set. 

Butte Central was more competitive with the Blue Devils for a longer while in the second set. The Maroons had a three-point lead, 4-1 after a Corvallis error. A tip by Badovinac after Corvallis caught up was to be BC’s last lead, 6-5, of the set. A net serve tied the score. Corvallis built a lead to four points and Butte Central bounced back to tie the score at 14-all on a block by Moodry. The Blue Devils, though, grabbed the lead on a tip by Jessica Saturday and held it. Gilder served a six-point run in which she and Sorensen each notched two kills. An ace by Saturday put up set point at 24-15 before the 6-foot senior, Gilder, smoked a corner-to-corner kill from the deep left angle. 

The Maroons took control of the third game when Mollie Drew broke an 11-all tie with a block. They steadily opened the margin and Drew served a five-point run for a 22-12 spread. Moodry scored twice on tips and Mia Keeley on a block in the run. A Corvallis hit tangling in the net brought BC set point at 24-13. A side-out later, Moodry powered a kill and BC was still alive in the match. 

Butte Central rode the momentum and new confidence to a 4-0 lead to start the fourth set with Moodry scoring on a tip, Anderson registering two aces and a Corvallis return sailing long. The Blue Devils regrouped and challenged. They caught the Maroons twice before grabbing a 21-20 edge on an ace by Tara Fournier. An Anderson return knotted the score again. However, Gilder broke the deadlock with a kill and Madison Lewis stroked an ace for a 23-21 Corvallis lead. A Moodry kill narrowed the gap and a Blue Devil hit into the net tied the score again, 23-all. 

Drew fired an ace for set point, and a Corvallis shot missed long.  

The match score was tied at two games apiece to bring on the fifth-game tiebreaker. 

“We have five seniors, but we’re young in the sense of experience,” Hancock said. “The comeback was a great thing to see from this team, having the poise to come back and win it in the fifth game. People were where they should be on the court and we did what we needed to do.” 

Anderson finished with three aces and 18 digs, Moodry had 19 kills, and Sofee Thatcher collected 10 kills and 23 digs to lead the win. Keeley put up all 32 of the team’s assists. Badovinac led the team in blocks with four. 

 Gilder led Corvallis with 19 kills, Saturday scorched five aces and came up with 16 digs, and Tahnee Lewis notched 14 assists and three blocks. 

The win pushed Butte Central’s records to 5-4 overall and 5-3 in conference play. The Maroons are to play at East Helena on Tuesday. Corvallis fell to 8-2 overall and 7-1 in Southwestern A play. The Blue Devils swept BC in their previous meeting in Corvallis. They are slated to play at Hamilton on Tuesday. 

Butte Central def. Corvallis 12-25, 15-25, 25-14, 25-23, 15-11
KILLS – Corvallis 51 (Madeline Gilder 19), BC 38 (Ella Moodry 19, Sofee Thatcher 10, Brooke Badovinac, Mia Keeley 3, Maycee Anderson 2, Kinley Hamilton 1). ASSISTS – Corvallis 30 (Tahnee Lewis 14), BC 32 (Keeley 32) . ACES – Corvallis 12 (Jessica Saturday 5), BC 8 (Anderson 3, Mollie Drew 2, Thatcher 2, Keeley 1). DIGS – Corvallis 51 (Saturday 16), BC 78 (Thatcher 23, Anderson 19, Moodry 15, Keeley 9, Badovinac 4, Drew 4, Brenna Foley 2, Hamilton 2) . BLOCKS – Corvallis 7 (T. Lewis 3, Tylin Sorenson 2), BC 8 (Badovinac 4, Drew 2, Moodry 2, Keeley 1) .