A tightly contested battle, as if Dillon and Butte Central would have it any other way.
The Maroons claimed a 3-1 match victory over the Beavers Thursday night, but only 11 points over four sets separated the Western Class A rivals as Central improved to 5-2 in the region off the win at the Maroon Activities Center.
Dillon took an early set lead, thanks to a late comeback that finished the opener at 26-24. However, the Maroons notched three straight set victories in response, which Central head coach Becky Hancock said was encouraging.
“I’m looking for the fight I saw tonight,” Hancock said. “But I’ve seen it since the beginning of the season with this team. Hand it to Dillon, defensively great and I’m proud of the way our girls hung in there.”
The Maroons were led by senior Cassidy Strizic, who’s 18 kills led the contest. Strizic was primarily assisted by Maci Reopelle and Emma Keeley, who tallied 20 and 14 assists respectively.
“[Strizic] brought it tonight,” Hancock said. “She was on. We had focused with her, and everyone else, on the consistency of her play and tonight she delivered. Her timing and energy was there, and she was really connecting.”
Strizic also contributed three blocks, tying fellow Bulldog Avery Kelly for the most in the match. Dillon playmaker Madi Ruegsegger led the match in assists, totaling an impressive 46 assists.
The Beavers’ final product was distinctly spread out as Dillon had three players with thirteen kills or more, as Ainsley Shipman (13), Charli Hazelbaker (15) and Josey Jones (15) all made significant contributions.
Jones has had an impressive season thus far with the Beavers, and added another performance to her belt Thursday night. Dillon head coach Susanne Valach credited the senior for her progression this year.
“Jones does a great job for us on the outside,” Valach said. “She does a good job of getting up and putting the ball away no matter where it is. She’s coming into being a great hitter for us.”
However, Jones, Hazelbaker and company fell short Thursday night. Valach mentioned that the intensity of the match was to her standards, but that the Beavers need consistency in receiving and on offense.
“I was pleased with the effort,” Valach said. “Especially compared to our game back in Dillon. I think we need to work on our receiving, it’s there at times, but sometimes not. We also have to make sure our hitters are options at all times.”
Dillon will look to recover with a home match against Hamilton Saturday, while the Maroons return to the MAC this Tuesday as they welcome Stevensville.