There were couple of pretty good college volleyball teams playing in Butte Saturday, yet the hardest hitters in local action might have been on a high school squad from Billings Senior.
One Kiahna Steiner shot actually decked standout Butte High senior libero Hattie Thatcher, blasting her under the chin, during the Broncs’ 25-14, 25-9, 25-13 dominating sweep of Butte High Saturday in an Eastern AA Conference match played in the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym at Butte High School.
Steiner went on to chart 13 kills and post four blocks, and Thatcher bounced right back up off the floor to finish with a team-high 13 digs.
“Seven of those digs, I don’t know how she got to them,” Bulldog head coach Dale Burgman said in wonderment.
The taller Broncs were able to play well above the net, picking out, Burgman noted, the shorter Butte High defender in double-blocks to hit the ball over. Billings Senior pasted 40 kills and the Bulldogs nailed 14. Steiner was one of the tall, athletic stars the Broncs set up on the court.
“I think Steiner was 13-for-13 hitting,” Burgman said. “She pounded it. She put on a show.”
Billings Senior has yet to lose so much as a game this season, remaining undefeated on the campaign. The Bulldogs are 1-3 in Eastern AA play.
“They all hit well,” Burgman said of the Broncs. “I don’t need to be rude to Great Falls (High), but if we played against Great Falls (last Tuesday) as we did against Senior, we would have won against Great Falls. We had four errors against Senior after making 11 against Great Falls. We played a pretty good match against Senior. It’s no question, they’re the unanimous No. 1 (in the rankings).”
Butte High managed a lead early in the third game. McKaul Ori fired an ace serve before the Broncs scored when 6-foot-1 setter Jace Henderson dumped a pass over the net for Billings Senior, tying the score. Baylee Thatcher broke the tie in the Bulldogs’ favor with a tip placement before the Broncs hit wide on a shot.
Side outs and points were traded before Billings Senior finally went ahead by snapping a 6-6 knot when Kierney Findon and 6-3 sophomore Taylor Mims fenced up a double block. A seven-point serving run by Andrea Bowers lengthened the Broncs’ lead as they took over the set. Jessica Haley added a five=point run later and Billings Senior led 22-10.
A serving mistake ended one of the big runs, and Carlie Haeffner’s kill for Butte High ended the other.
Match point came on a Bobbi Bjotndahl block that made the score 24-13. Henderson aced the next serve.
“I thought we did a nice job of keeping the ball alive,” Burgman said. “We had good net play from Carlie, Brianna (O‘Mara) , Rachel (Anderson), Sammy (McGree) and Baylee. Our setting was better than it was Tuesday.
“They (the Broncs) do this to everybody. I have to admit, they have us a little intiidated. But our effort was 100 percent better than in our last game.”
Butte High leaders were Hattie Thatcher and Ori with an ace apiece, Ori with seven assists and McGree with four kills. Henderson set 30 assis6s for the Broncs, and Haley came up with 18 digs. Steiner and Bowers each whistled four ace serves.
Billings Senior def. Butte High 25-14, 25-9, 25-13
Kills — Billings Senior 40 (Kiahna Steiner 13, Andrea Bowers 12), Butte High 14 (Sammy McGree 4, Baylee Thatcher 3, Carlie Haeffner 3, Brianna O’Mara 2, Rachel Anderson 2). Assists — Billings Senior 33 (Jace Henderson 30), Butte High 10 (McKaul Ori 7, B. Thatcher 3). Aces — Billings Senior 13 (Steiner 4, Bowers 4), Butte High 2 (H. Thatcher 1, Ori 1). Digs — Billings Senior 54 (Jessica Haley 18, Kierney Findon 14), Butte High 30 (H. Thatcher 13, Jessie Buckley 9, McGree 5, B. Thatcher 2, Ori 1). Blocks — Billings Senior 9 (Steiner 4, Findon 2, Taylor Mims 2), Butte High 4 (Haeffner 1, O’Mara 1, Buckley 1, Anderson 1).