Unbeaten Maroon spikers sweep Hamilton

Butte Central was almost too good for its own good Saturday when the Maroons rocked Hamilton 25-9, 25-19, 25-23 in a Southwestern A Conference high school girls’ volleyball match at the Maroon Activities Center (MAC).

The BC girls stayed undefeated with the win going to 2-0 in conference play and 4-0 overall. Butte Central wouldn’t allow Hamilton to get started in the first game, then let down some in the second and the Broncs took advantage. Hamilton was downright intent on comeback in the third game and forced the Maroons to compete to the end.

“I don’t know if we were coming out that strong or if the other team just came out week,” BC head coach Becky Hancock said, shaking her head. “But, I knew Hamilton and would hit with their heat. I knew they’d come back and they did, and we were kind of asleep.

“We need to stay high on intensity and excitement all the time. In our frustrations, there for a time, we were flustered. We have to stay excited and stay intense.”

Butte Central was pretty good across the board. The serving sizzled, though the sturdy Broncs held up and got in front of most of the shots. Mollie Peoples did drill two her team’s aces.

Homecoming queen Teresa Piazzola led in kills with 12, finding her swing for some rockets that the Broncs simply could not get to to defend. She also led the Maroons in digs with 11 and Peoples scooped 10. Emily St. John again set all 32 assists with good dispersal instincts. Sierra Pica slammed kills and Lacey McGree notched four blocks,

The highlight of Butte Central’s first-game dominance was a serving run by Peoples that took the Maroons from a 14-7 advantage to a 21-7 command. She splashed her two aces back-to-back in the splurge that also included kills by Corbyn Holm and Ryan Trudnowski. Piazzola plastered a kill for game point at 24-8. After a successful tip shot by Shannon Casale for Hamilton, the Broncs committed a four-hit violation that finished the set.

It took a little longer to for BC to shake Hamilton in the second game. The Maroons led by only 22-19 when they gained the last possession on a long serve by the Broncs. Holm toed the line and Piazzola scored on a tip, then on a kill. The latter put up game point. A very tough serve by Holm put the Hamilton receive off-balance and caused a weak floater that Lacey McGree smothered straight down on a stuff block. It finished the game.

Hamilton was in full contention in the third set. The Broncs had a 21-19 edge after Jordan Bauder buried a kill. The Broncs’ next shot carried long and tied the score. Another put Butte Central ahead. Hayley Hudgins hammered a kill to re-tie the count for Hamilton and then Piazzola powered two consecutive high-octane kills to put the Maroons up by 24-22, game point. Another such attempt by Piazzola was blocked by Bauder and the Broncs had the side-out. The handfight at the net, after the serve and return, however, resulted in Hamilton being called for a lift just a tick before Pica blasted a kill.

“It was fun to see them regroup,” Hancock said. “It was, ‘how bad do you guys want this?’”

Hancock was referring to the 21-19 edge Hamilton had taken in the third game, throwing up some adversity for Butte Central to conquer.

“They figured it out and I’m happy about that,” the coach said. “We’ve been pretty consistent and now we’re getting the mental toughness.”

Though the serving was not racking up bunches of aces, it did wobble the Broncs. Hamilton had trouble fielding the serves and more trouble making quality passes off the receives. The weaker passes hurt the setting as attested to by totaling just 14 assists. The disrupted set rattled the hitters’ timing in the attack.

“Our serving has been lethal,” Hancock said. “We seem to always have one or two kids who get back there and we’re on it. Mollie’s jump serve today was trouble for them to handle and McKenzie (Gallagher) got us on a roll, today.”

The coach also credited Holm with her consistent play in all aspects this season, and Taylor Wahl for her serving Saturday, along with her passing off the serve-receive. The team is pretty deep and the good, quick, defensive specialists nicely complement the front line that possesses good height. The combination showed Saturday, especially in the early going.

Hamilton leaders included Tristy Searle and Casale with seven kills apiece, Casale with 15 digs, Caitlin Dillon with 14 assists and Bauder with three blocks.

The BC girls will next play on Tuesday at home against conference rival Corvallis. It is scheduled for a 7 p.m. first serve.

Butte Central def. Hamilton 25-9, 25-19, 25-23.
KILLS — Hamilton 20 (Tristy Searle 7, Shannon Casale 7), Butte Central 36 (Teresa Piazzola 12, Sierra Pica 8, Corbyn Holm 6, Lacey McGree 6, Emily St. John 2, Ryan Trudnowski 2). ASSISTS — Hamilton 14 (Caitlin Dillon 14), Butte Central 32 (St. John 32). ACES — Hamilton 3 (Jordan Bauder 1, Caitlin Gillespie 1, Kloie Nye 1), Butte Central 4 (Mollie Peoples 2, Piazzola 1, McKenzie Gallagher 1). DIGS — Hamilton 50 (Casale 15), Butte Central 52 (Piazzola 11, Peoples 10, Wahl 8, St. John 7, Shawnee Hjelt 7, Holm 5, Pica 3, Gallagher 1). Blocks — Hamilton 3 (Bauder 3), Butte Central 5 (L. McGree 4, Trudnowski 1).