BUTTE — The Kalispell Glacier Wolfpack rallied from a two-game deficit to defeat the Butte Bulldogs on Saturday, 10-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-20, 15-12, in Western AA action at the Butte Civic Center.
After boat racing the Wolfpack in the first set, the Bulldogs trailed 19-12 in the second set before rallying to win it 25-22. It sure looked like all the momentum was with Butte.
But someone forgot to let Glacier know.
“Our serving has been a lot different during the last week-and-half or two weeks, so that’s coming around,” said Bulldogs coach Shane Jorgensen. “To be able to fight back in Game 2, and get that game was big. Now we just need to learn how to close.”
The Bulldogs had 10 aces. Mollee Conlan led the way with three.
Playing to avoid the sweep and trailing 19-18, Glacier rattled off four unanswered points to take a 22-19 lead. Butte clawed its way back and even took a 25-24 lead. Seemingly unfazed, the Wolfpack took the next three points and won the set 27-25.
“We’re young and we’re learning how to (play with confidence),” said Wolfpack coach Christy Harkins. “I think it’s just a mindset; knowing that when you come to Butte, the opponent is going to have that mindset. That’s how Butte plays. They play gritty; they play tough. You have to try to match that as much as you can. I just try to keep giving those kids confidence so they can play with confidence.”
When it was going good for the Bulldogs, their middles, Ashley Olson, Laura Rosenleaf, and Conlan were cooking. Olson racked up a team-high 12 kills and Conlan led the way with seven of Butte’s 15 blocks.
“Their middles were killing us,” Hawkins said. “They have great middles; they’re aggressive. They were passing the ball really well so they could run their middle anytime they wanted. So we had to make some adjustments.”
And when the Wolfpack made their adjustments, things snowballed for Butte. The Bulldogs kept it close for the next two sets, but Glacier led nearly wire-to-wire from the fourth set, on.
“We need to find confidence when things start going downhill,” Jorgensen said. “That’s our biggest thing. We’ve got to know how to close out a game. We’ll direct our drills toward closing. We should have been done in three, and the girls will all tell you that. We’re playing for the divisional tournament. I don’t care what our record is going in, as long as we peak at the right time.”
Sidney Gulick was a thorn in the side of the Bulldogs, racking up 20 kills. Anytime the Wolfpack needed something, setter Haven Speer seemed to look Gulick’s way. Speaking of Speer, she tallied 44 assists on the afternoon. Gulick also had a team-high four blocks and Maddie Frazier had 24 digs. Sammie Labrum and Maddie Davis added three aces apiece.
The Bulldogs were also donned in their pink jerseys as a tribute to Butte vs. Cancer. Throughout the game, members of the Butte community fighting cancer were honored. Raffle tickets were sold to raise money for students and alumni currently fighting the disease.
Bulldogs assistant coach Laura Mortensen was honored before the match.
“I think anytime you have that much emotion coming into a weekend, it’s tough to play with,” Jorgensen said. “They’re not worried about volleyball; they’re worried about their class mates and former class mates, and their coach. It’s tough to reel that back in. The emotions were very difficult to play with.”
Butte is back at it Oct. 14 hosting Missoula Sentinel. On the same day, the Wolfpack will hop across town for a showdown with Kalispell Flathead.
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