Rustlers battle back to take down Bulldogs in five

Rustlers battle back to take down Bulldogs in five
Butte High's Kira Mortensen tries to hit the ball past the block of Great Falls Russell's Allie Olsen Thursday night at the Richardson Gym. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bill Foley

The Butte High volleyball team had to feel like it snatched defeat from the jaws of victory Thursday night.

The Bulldogs looked so good, taking the first two sets from Great Falls Russell 25-20 and 25-19. Butte High never trailed in either game.

Over the next three sets, however, the Bulldogs never led, and the Rustlers left town with a five-set Eastern AA victory. CMR won the final three games 25-23, 25-22 and 15-4.

“CMR covered the floor well,” Butte High coach Katrina Berg said of the last three games. “We just couldn’t find the open spots.”

Butte High saw comebacks fall just short in the third and fourth sets.

The Bulldogs scored seven straight to turn a 19-12 deficit into a 19-all battle in Game 4.

In Game 5, CMR used a 12-1 run to take command, and the Rustlers led 21-12. The Bulldogs battled back to within 22-21 before the Rustlers closed out the win.

In the fifth set, the Rustlers scored 10 straight points to break open a 3-all tie and put the victory away.

“We let them just serve and serve and serve,” Berg said of the final set.

That was quite the contrast to the first two games, when Butte High could do little wrong.

“In the first two they didn’t really let the ball hit the floor,” Berg said. “They were scrambling for everything. They had a lot of good digs.”

Allie Olsen, a 6-foot-2 sophomore tallied 18 kills and six blocks to lead the Rustlers, who fell in four sets to Butte High last month in Great Falls.

Hayden Hilyard and Nicole Grubb each served four aces in the victory, while Kyra Willis collected 18 digs.

Kira Mortensen, a 6-1 sophomore, registered 13 digs and four blocks for the Bulldogs. Senior Cameron Cassidy added 10 kills, and Keeley Pochervina hit the floor for 31 digs.

Alissa Bernhard and Emma Field each added five kills, while Bethanney Foley dished up 20 assists.

Berg said a stat that hurt the Bulldogs was blocks. Butte High only had five as a team. That’s half as many as Mortensen had by herself in Tuesday’s five set loss at Great Falls High.

“We had most our blocks in those first two sets,” Berg said. “I think we had all of our blocks then.”


Brittney Tierney and Jenna Maroney joined Pochervina in double digits with digs. Tierney dug 12, while Maroney, who was playing on her 18th birthday, dug 10.

Tierney also added six kills for the Bulldogs. She played most of the last two sets with an injured arm.

“She is pretty tough,” Berg said of the junior defensive specialist. “She never wants to come out.”

The coach also pointed to the play of Cassidy.

“Cam was really good tonight,” Berg said. “She was the second leader in kills, and she just did really well.”

Berg said the Bulldogs, who fell to 2-6 in conference and 2-10 overall, are still improving.

“They’re coming along,” she said. “We were just hoping to get Great Falls High and CMR because they were our two wins earlier in the season.”

The Bulldogs are off until next Friday and Saturday when they play host to Billings West and Billings Senior.

Great Falls Russell def. Butte High 20-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22, 15-4
Kills — CMR 46 (Allie Olsen 18), Butte 42 (Kira Mortensen 13, Cameron Cassidy 10, Brittney Tierney 6, Alissa Bernhardt 5, Emma Field 5, Baylee Leary 1, Bethanney Foley 1, Sidney Christie 1). Assists — CMR 42 (Aubrey Wasson 39), Butte 32 (Foley 20, Christie 9, Keeley Pochervina 2, Leary 1). Blocks — 12 (Olsen 6), Butte 5 (Mortensen 4, Cassidy 1). Aces — 11 (Hayden Hilyard 4, Nicole Grubb 4), Butte 11 (Foley 4, Pochervina 3, Mortensen 2, Tierney 2). Digs — CMR 81 (Kyra Willis 18), Butte 74 (Pochervina 31, Tierney 12, Jenna Maroney 10, Foley 8, Christie 4, Bernhardt 3, Leary 2, Emily Kelly 2, Cassidy 1, Mortensen 1).

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