Butte High’s only two senior volleyball players have waited patiently to step to the forefront of team endeavors. Actually, both 6-foot Carlie Haeffner and 5-7 Hattie Thatcher have been a little impatient. They’ve starred early.
Both are also good three-sport athletes as each is a basketball starter, too. Haeffner excels in the jumps in track and Thatcher is an all-state outfielder in softball.
“We think Hattie is the best libero in the state,” head coach Dale Burgman said, adding that teaming Haeffner with Rachel Anderson and Brianna O’Mara upfront will allow for more variations on blocks and kills at the net.
Thatcher has added a jump serve to her repertoire of volleyball skills while Haeffner displayed noticeably more strength in the team scrimmage held Friday in the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym at Butte High School.
Both players said their participation in sports throughout the school year is a benefit, each activity helping the others. They indicated the discipline needed to succeed at the endeavors is beneficial to their academic scheduling as well.
“It keeps us structured,” they said, almost in unison.
One sport, though, is the focus at the moment and the two seniors have declared their purpose.
“We want to make it to state,” Thatcher said of the seniors’ stated goals for the year. Neither has made it to the state AA tourney in volleyball, but both have advanced to the state championship competitions in their other sports. Thatcher was a key member of the Bulldog state softball titlists in 2011.
“We’re working really hard for it,” Thatcher continued, adding that the semi-experience group of returnees is bolstered by a subvarsity contingent that may provide Butte High with some of its best depth in quite some time. “We have a lot of starters that are really good and good jayvee players. I think our hitting and blocking are really improved.”
Part of the improvement at the net can be attributed to Haeffner’s abilities and leadership. She was a second-team All-Eastern AA Conference pick last fall and dedicated herself to improving even more her skills in the offseason.
“I have a little more power this year,” she said after a tough match with the junior varsity in the scrimmage, one by the varsity, 17-25, 25-16, 15-11. I lifted weights all summer and went to open gym.”
Fans might have noticed the accuracy along with the power, too, at the scrimmage.
“I’ve learned to be patient, to wait for the ball,” Haeffner said. “Before, I’d be so excited, I would leave (her feet) too early (on the hit attempt). I’m learning to wait for that.”
She doesn’t want to wait any longer for a trip to Bozeman and the state Class AA tournament, though. Neither does Thatcher. They can’t. They’re seniors.
“Hopefully, it’ll be different this year,” Thatcher said.