By Bruce Sayler
Line drives off the hands of Trisha Carlson led the hard-hitting offense of C.M. Russell High School as the Great Falls team aced Butte High 25-13, 26-24, 25-15 Tuesday night.
The Eastern AA Conference high school girls’ volleyball match was played in the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym at Butte High School.
Carlson finished with nine kills, but her hard shots put Bulldogs on their heels and the Rustler star’s serves forced the Butte High team into several reception errors, stunting the Bulldogs’ attack.
“We started a little slow in the first game, but then we fired back in the second game,” Butte High head coach Katrina Berg said. “We gave them too many points in the middle. Then, in the third game, we had too many overpasses. I think passing was the main thing for us losing. We gave them too many free balls.”
Errors and problems with serve-receive plagued Butte High in the first set. C.M. Russell took the lead for good at 3-2 on a kill by valued softball prospect Tristin Achenbach. The Rustlers built on the lead and were up by 20-11 after an ace serve by Josey Quinn. An Achenbach ace brought game point at 24-13. The Bulldogs hit their next attack shot into the net, giving CMR the game win.
Butte High setter Sam Krzan sizzled two aces at C.M. Russell to tie set point at 24-all in a fiercely competed second set. After a service error, however, the Rustlers notched the game win when the Bulldogs were whistled for a four-hit violation. Butte High had led 9-8 and 10-8 after an ace by Brittney Tierney and a kill by Cameron Cassidy set by Bethany McMahon. CMR kept the match from getting away. It took the lead for good at 20-19 when a double-hit was called on Butte High. CMR hit set point at 24-20 on a ace by Lindsey Anderson before the Bulldogs’ spirited rally that just came up short.
C.M. Russell controlled the third set from a Carlson kill that broke a 6-all tie. The Rustlers pulled away and worked the margin to 10 points, 23-13, on a Butte High hitting error. Carlson killed another shot for match point, then CMR endured two hitting errors before an Achenbach kill ended the match.
The 6-foot senior, Achenbach, last spring’s Montana Gatorade Player of the Year in softball while she pitched Conrad-Choteau to the state Class B championship, transferred to Russell over the summer. She nailed 10 kills to lead the CMR volleyball attack on Tuesday. Anderson and Quinn plastered four aces each, and setters Anderson and Mady Skawinski combined for 27 assists. Libero Zuzu Rudio scooped 14 digs as CMR improved to 1-2 in conference matches and 3-6 for the season.
Butte High fell to 0-5 and 0-9. Bulldog leaders in the match included Dodge and Cassidy with five kills each, McMahon with 10 assists, and Tierney and Krzan with two aces each. Libero Keeley Pochervina pulled up 15 digs. The Bulldogs will play a non-conference match at Class A Dillon on Thursday.
“We need to keep up our enthusiasm and have what we did in tonight’s second game,” Berg said. “We have to keep pushing everyday. We’re still learning.”
Great Falls C.M. Russell def. Butte High 25-13, 26-24, 25-15
KILLS — CMR 33 (Tristi Achenbach 10, Trisha Carlson 9), Butte 18 (Abby Dodge 5, Cameron Cassidy 5, Melissa Bernhardt 4, Baylee Leary 2, Jenna Maroney 2). ASSISTS — CMR 29 (Mady Skawinski 14, Lindsey Anderson 13), Butte 18 (Bethany McMahon 10, Sam Krzan 7, Maroney 1). ACES — CMR 12 (Anderson 4, Josey Quinn 4), Butte (6 (Brittney Tierney 2, Krzan 2, Maroney 1, Keeley Pochervina 1). DIGS — CMR 36 (Zuzu Rudio 14), Butte 41 (Pochervina 15, Tierney 11, Maroney 5, Krzan 5, Bernhardt 2, Leary 2, McMahon 1). BLOCKS — CMR 3 (Achenbach 2), Butte 2 (Dodge 1, Cassidy 1).