Panthers sweep Bulldogs

Panthers sweep Bulldogs
Butte High middle blocker Kira Mortensen watches as Belgrade’s Faith Eastwood (2) goes for the ball. Panthers Bailey Christensen (12) and McKenna Carlson (11) are also in on the play. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bruce Sayler

Belgrade was hitting and Butte High was missing Tuesday night in their non-conference high school girls’ volleyball match.

As a result, Class A Belgrade beat the Class AA Bulldogs 25-18, 25-19, 25-14 in the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym at Butte High.

What was had there was a failure to communicate said a nearly exasperated Katrina Berg, Butte High head coach, though Panther hitters like McKenna Carlson, Cassidy Catron and Bailey Christenson had much to do with it, too.

“The No. 1 thing I told them all week was we need to communicate,” Berg said about the Bulldogs. We didn’t talk the entire first game.”

Berg said the subject  brought up again before play resumed.

“Then, in the second game and in the third game,” she said, “it was dead silent.”

One play saw two Bulldogs collide on the sideline, allowing for a Belgrade point. The Bulldogs gave them plenty help throughout, the coach said.

“”We’re late on passes and then our passes are overpasses,” Berg said. “We’re not running plays and we’re not finishing.

“This is not the team I know. It’s not the team that played Great Falls High or CMR or Billings West.”
In recent matches and against some tough Class AA opponents, Butte High had showed signs of gelling. The Bulldogs were out of sync against Belgrade.

The Bulldogs held a narrow lead in the early moments of the match, but the Panthers got the lead at 10-9 when a Butte High hit missed past the end line. Faith Eastwood followed with a stuff block and Belgrade led the rest of the game. Catron toed the service line with the Panthers holding a 22-18, thanks to one of her kills. Butte High then fumbled a pass into the net, Christenson killed a shot for set point and the game ended on a Bulldog attempt that missed wide of the boundary.

Belgrade took control of the second game right away. Catron and Christensen crunched a kills in a Jaiden Blakely serving run that piled up a 5-0 lead. The run included an ace.

The margin reached 10 points, 18-8, on two consecutive Blakely aces. The Panthers hit set point at 24-17 on a Christensen kill. It blunted a Butte High rally served by Baylee Leary that whittled six points off the difference. Emma Field’s kill off a Sydney Christie assist highlighted the Bulldog surge.

Butte High fought off set point with a Field tip and a Brittney Tierney block before the Bulldogs suffered a pass-to-set disconnect that ended the set with the ball falling to the hardwood.

The Bulldogs stayed a little closer in the third game, for awhile. A Field kill gave Butte High possession trailing 10=6 and another squeezed the margin to three points. Jenna Maroney aced the serve and it was a 10-8 score before the Panthers were called for a carry, creating a one-point difference.

However, Butte High was unable to pull even. Catron and Christensen pounded kills in a Brooke Gilbertson serving run that opened a 15-6 Belgrade advantage. The Panthers got it to 23-13 on a Christensen tip. A Blakely block put match point at 24-14 and the match ended with a Butte High attempt misfiring, the ball sliding off the side of the hitter’s hand.

Christensen led the Panthers with 14 kills and Blakely set 30 assists in only three games. Katie Hoppe and Blakely served three aces each, Taylor Christenson registered 17 digs and the 6-foot-3 Carlson put up 2 ½ blocks. The win improved the Panthers’ record to 17-2.

Butte High’s 6-1 sophomores led the Bulldogs’ offense as Kira Mortensen notched eight kills and Field had five. Mortensen also had the team’s block. Bethanney Foley and Christie combined for

20 assists, Maroney, Keeley Pochervina and Tierney each served an ace, and Pochervina led Butte High in digs with 16.  Butte High is 2-14 for the year.

“I don’t what it’s about playing these A schools and (the Panthers) played well,” Berg said, still searching for a solution to the Bulldogs’ problems of Tuesday night. “But, we need to work on talking and hitting, and putting the ball in play.”

Butte High will play another Class A team in non-conference action on Thursday. The Bulldogs will take on Dillon at 6 p.m. in a Senior Parents Night match that will be Butte High’s last match this year in the Richardson Gym.


Belgrade def. Butte High 25-18, 25-19, 25-14
KILLS — Belgrade 37 (Bailey Christenson 14, Cassidy Catron 11, McKenna Carlson 6), Butte 20 (Kira Mortensen 8, Emma Field 5, Alissa Bernhardt 3, Brittney Tierney 2, Baylee Leary 1, Cameron Cassidy 1).  ASSISTS — Belgrade 32 (Jaiden Blakely 30), Butte 20 (Bethanney Foley 11, Sydney Christie 9). ACES — Belgrade 6 (Katie Hoppe 3, Blakely 3), Butte 3 (Tierney 1, Jenna Maroney 1, Keeley Pochervina 1). DIGS — Belgrade 55 (Taylor Christenson 17, B. Christenson 9, Blakely 8), Butte 47 (Pochervina 16, Tierney 8, Maroney 6, Christie 6, Leary 4, Bernhardt 3, Foley 3, Makenna Carpenter 1).  BLOCKS — Belgrade 6 (Carlson 2 ½, Brooke Gilbertson 1 ½),  Butte 1 (Mortensen).

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