BUTTE -- When Butte was swept by Helena High earlier this month, Bulldogs head coach Jeni Hope was displeased with how her team fared against a highly touted opponent.
“I’m just frustrated that we can’t translate what we do in practice on the court when we have great competition. They should’ve played out of their minds, because my team is also outstanding.”
Her words reflect a desire for her team to meet their potential, and the Bulldogs may be turning a corner. Butte swept Glacier in sets of 25-22, 25-14 and 25-23 Friday night against a strong Wolfpack team that had handled the Bulldogs 3-2 earlier in September.
The first two sets saw Butte jump out to early leads, although Glacier mounted a toothy comeback after falling 16-9 behind. With the opening game sitting at 22-21, the Bulldogs were able to pull out a decisive first set.
Wolfpack head coach Christy Harkins acknowledged the importance of starting strong, but appreciated that her team never quit despite going down in the first set and dealing with numerous injuries,
“Our outside hitter Tori Roo went down before the game,” Harkins said. “Which scrambled us a bit. We also had a libero and another player who couldn’t playing, but the JV kids that came in did a good job for us.”
However, the first game was a sign of things to come as Butte carried momentum into the second set, going on an eight-point run to jump out to a 17-5 lead, giving the Bulldogs room to breathe as they confidently took a 11-point game victory.
The Bulldogs were led by senior middle Emma Field, who led the game with 13 kills, and senior setter Sydney Doyle to a significant amount of points with her 16 assists. Junior Ally Mueller led Butte with two solo blocks.
Wolfpack senior Aubrie Rademacher led Glacier with 11 kills, while juniors Kayle Fitz (29) and Kynzie Mohl (2) led the Wolfpack in assists and blocks respectively.
The Glacier trio and their team grew into the game, with the third and final set being the tightest between the sides. However, their efforts were not enough to save the Wolfpack from a sweep, as Butte engineered another victory, this time having to grind out a match-deciding set that never saw the difference between the two teams never grow more than four points.
Beating a team that won considerably in a previous matchup is always a good sign, and Hope is optimistic that her team is making the progress needed to compete as the regular season inches toward its finish.
“The sense of urgency is building,” Hope said. “I could feel it building all week. They had that sense of, ‘Not today.’ I hope it carries into tomorrow, we’re building steam and getting better every day. One thing, one game at a time.”
Butte improves to 10-8 and will look to build off of back-to-back wins with a road trip to Kalispell Flathead Saturday, Glacier takes a break until November 1, when the Wolfpack travels to Helena High.