New Butte Central head coach Becky Hancock received the performance she was hoping for, and maybe even more, in the Maroons’ home volleyball opener Thursday night.
Butte Central topped rival Dillon 25-14, 25-23, 17-25, 25-20 in a Southwestern A Conference match at the Maroon Activities Center.
The victory was cheered enthusiastically by a fired-up Maroons football team seated behind one end of the court.
The gridders had plenty cause to cheer. Hancock said she did, too.
“It was a good (home) opener,” Hancock, last year’s top assistant coach in the program, said. “The girls played hard and they played together. That’s what we’ve been preaching.”
Hancock took over this year for Kaila Minehan, who left after last season to move to Salt Lake City. Minehan’s 10 years at the helm marked the most successful tenure in the history of the program.
Hancock was on staff for most of those years and so knew what kind of players were going to be on her roster.
“They showed up and I was impressed,” Hancock said, still talking about her home win. “It was a great team victory by all the players.”
Of course, it wasn’t easy. Second-year Dillon head coach Angela Racicot had to replace four starters in this year’s lineup and so some kinks are still being worked out of the play. Still, the Beavers did not go away quietly.
After the Maroons roared to a first-game win, they were pressed to pull out a narrow edge over a confidence-gaining Dillon squad. Momentum switched sides and the Beavers won the third game before Butte Central was able to outscrap the visitors in a tough fourth game.
“Our composure at the end was key,” Hancock assessed. “At the beginning of the match, you definitely could see some nerves. Then (the Maroons) came on strong.
“In the third game, we got down, dug ourselves a hole and couldn’t get out of it. Then in the fourth game, we got a couple of points up and rolled with it.”
Butte Central leaders included Teresa Piazzola with 16 digs and 14 kills, Lacey McGree with 10 kills and two blocks, Kate Ossello with 13 digs, Emily St. John with 14 digs and 28 assists, Ashley Marthaller with 12 digs and Ryan Trudnowski with six blocks.
Dillon countered with Holly Andersen with all 38 of the Beavers’ assists, Cierra Lamey with 24 digs and 11 kills, Taylor Chase with three aces, Kylie Christiansen with 12 kills, Bailey Berriochoa with 13 digs and Kodi Ferris with 10 digs.
St. John’s serving run in the first game established control for the Maroons. She served five points, including an ace. Trudnowski capped the run with a kill that gained steam on three Dillon errors.
The surge gave Butte Central an 11-7 edge and the team capitalized. The set finished on four errors, three by Dillon, two of which were net violations at the very end.
The Beavers led the second game early and even after yielding it, stayed in the fray. It was tied at 23-all after Andersen sizzled an ace. McGree placed perfectly a tip to put the Maroons at game point. Then the set ended on yet another Dillon net violation. The Beavers, lacking the experience held by the four starters graduated from last year, were plagued by penalties and at crucial times throughout the match.
Their competitive spirit, and Christiansen’s hot hand, took over the third game, however. Chase plastered two of her aces in a run that took Dillon to a 13-7 lead from a 7-6 edge gained on a Lamey kill. Christiansen put down two spikes and three placement tips in a Lamey-served run that took Dillon to 22-9. The Beavers reached game point on a Butte Central mistake, a serve caught in the net, that put the score at 24-14. The Maroons fought off the loss for three serves before Christiansen smashed the winning kill.
The battle continued another set. Butte Central gained the lead for good at 13-12 on a Piazzola kill. Dillon never fell far behind. Marthaller served a five-point run — a Trudnowski kill and block, and three Beaver errors — for a 22-14 difference. Dillon cut a couple points off the margin and trailed on match point, 24-17, reached on another Trudnowski block. Four serves later, Trudnowski poached a Beaver floater over the net for a kill to end the match.
“Volleyball is a mental game,” Hancock said. “We’ll make a mistakes and when we do, we’ve got to find a way to put it in the past and get over it. The key for us will be keeping our momentum up, finding that energy.
“Dillon’s a great team with a great defense and great hitters, and we played with them. A win’s a win and I thought our team looked really good for our first home game. I’m looking forward to the season.”
The Maroons will compete in a tournament in Anaconda on Saturday.
Butte Central def. Dillon 25-14, 25-23, 17-25, 25-20.
KILLS — Dillon 39 (Kylie Christiansen 12, Cierra Lamey 11, Taylor Chase 8, Alex Rouse 7, Bailey Berriochoa 1), Butte Central 44 (Teresa Piazzola 14, Lacey McGree 10, Corbyn Holm 8, Ryan Trudnowski 5, Emily St. John 4, Shawnee Hjelt 3). ASSISTS — Dillon 38 (Holly Anderson 38), Butte Central 29 (St. John 28, Ashley Marthaller 1). ACES — Dillon 6 (Chase 3, Andersen 2, Kodi Ferris 1), Butte Central 3 (Holm 1, St. John 1, Kate Ossello 1). DIGS — Dillon 73 (Lamey 24, Berriochoa 13, Ferris 10, Andersen 9, Rouse 8, Chase 5, Christiansen 4), Butte Central 77 (Piazzola 16, St. John 14, Ossello 13, Marthaller 12, Erin McGeehan 7, Taylor Wahl 7, Holm 6, McGree 1, Trudnowski 1). BLOCKS — Dillon 1 (Lamey), Butte Central 13 (Trudnowski 6, St. John 2, McGree 2, Holm 1, Hjelt 1, Piazzola 1).