BUTTE — In a battle between cats and Bulldogs, the Bengals had the sharper bite.
Helena High journeyed to Butte for a clash in the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gymnasium, and traveled back victorious, sweeping the Bulldogs in sets of 25-13, 25-15 and 25-20. The Bengals improve to 8-1 in the Western AA and 11-3 on the year, while Butte drops to 7-7 and 3-5 in conference.
From the first serve, Helena was able to take control of the game despite the Bulldogs best efforts to match the Bengals’ pace, but head coach Lindsey Day’s team weathered several comebacks throughout the match to never lose control.
Day says that establishing early leads in sets is something the team has focused on in practice, and that Helena were able to execute in that regard Thursday night.
“We go out looking to be first to five points in every match,” Day said. “Coming out strong is something we stress every match. We did that tonight. I was happy with how the girls came out fired up to play, and they executed well.”
Bengals standout junior Elizabeth Heuiser led the game in kills and blocks, tallying 14 of the former and four of the latter. Senior Emily Feller did most of the feeding to Heuiser and Helena, totaling 24 assists.
Bulldogs senior Emma Field and sophomores Brooke McGrath and Kennadie McMahon led Butte in kills with three a piece, while senior Sydney Doyle notched seven assists.
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For Butte head coach Jeni Hope, the effort from her team was a letdown after a successful week of practice. After picking up three straight wins, the Bulldogs have now dropped back-to-back matches.
“I’m really disappointed,” Hope said. “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. I hate hearing, ‘Oh, Helena’s just outstanding.’ So are we, but we just can’t seem to do it in a game.”
Meanwhile, the Bengals have responded to their loss to Helena Capital on Sept. 28 with three straight road wins, taking down Glacier and Flathead before Thursday night’s sweep in Butte.
Day credited her team with staying mentally focused and winning the moments she expects them too, but that Butte gave a better effort than the final score may have let on.
“We knew Butte was going to be very scrappy,” Day said. “They picked up a lot of our balls defensively, and that can make our hitters frustrated at moments, but they kept firing away and it worked for us tonight.”
Helena returns home Saturday to face Missoula Hellgate, while Butte travels to the Bengals’ hometown to take on undefeated Helena Capital.