ARGYLE — The three-time defending champion Orioles were riding a 33-game conference winning streak that spanned to 2015 Black Hawk rolled into town for a match Sept. 6.
“Were” being the key word.
Black picked up an intense three-game sweep of Argyle in front of a packed crowd, 25-23, 25-15, 26-24.
“It was a major rush,” Warriors sophomore Bailey Butler said. “Getting a tip, getting a kill, anything — it was a major rush.”
The intensity of the match, which featured the two long-standing titans of the Six Rivers East, was evident from the opening serve — an ace by Black Hawk senior Savannah Burmeister.
“It was tough. They came out to play,” Argyle head coach Jen Butler said.
The Warriors took an 11-7 lead on a five-point run that included two aces by junior Hannah Butler. Black Hawk had seven aces in the first set alone, but gave up nine side-outs on serves short or out of bounds.
Argyle never vanished in the first game, leading 18-17 at one point and tying the score at 22 after a kill by freshman Maggie Godfrey. Back-to-back side-outs pushed it to 23-23, but a tip kill by Hannah Butler and a failed return by Argyle gave the Warriors the key first-set victory.
“The way we started off in set one and missed so many serves and to still come out with the win — we’ll definitely take that,” Black Hawk coach Rachel Wolff said. “It’s never easy to come in here and get a win in a set, more or less a match, so we’ll take that. The girls are feeling pretty good right now, but yet at the same time we’re going to take this and learn from it and move on — there’s a lot of season left.”
The Orioles appeared to be shell-shocked after losing the first set and fell behind 8-1 to open the second — which included Black Hawk senior Sydney Delzer scoring a point after an Argyle spike bounced off of her head and into no-man’s land.
“We didn’t get out to the strong start like we needed to,” Jen Butler said. “We tried to say to keep your heads up and stay confident, but we just kind of fell apart a little bit.”
Argyle was able to run off a 6-3 run to make it a respectable 11-7, but Bailey Butler took over from there. Butler scored four of the next five points on a mix of hard spike kills and a placement tip.
“We kept it going — we didn’t want the momentum to swing over. We wanted it,” said Bailey Butler, who led all players with a staggering 26 kills. “I trust everyone on my team and (sister) Hannah (Butler) usually helps me out. If it’s an open corner I hit it, down line I hit it. Everyone trusts each other.”
Trailing by two games, Jen Butler challenged her players to pick up their play.
“We have to stay positive and confident,” Jen Butler said. “We have to know that it’s going to be tough and we have to play our game.”
Black Hawk still controlled much of the third set and led 18-11, forcing Jen Butler to call her fifth timeout of the night in the process. Argyle went on an 8-2 run to bring it to 20-19, but Bailey Butler again came through with two kills and a block to make it 23-19 Black Hawk.
“I think we were playing a little shaky, a little timid. We lost a little bit of confidence. I said ‘Let’s get out there and play our game,’ and that’s exactly what we did and we came out with the points in the end,” Wolff said.
A deep serve side-out and then four straight service points from Jadyn Saalsaa gave Argyle a 24-23 advantage.
“There was a lot of intensity on both sides tonight. It was fun — it’s fun to be a part of a match like that,” Wolff said.
But Bailey Butler showed no quit and landed three consecutive kills to close out the match.
Burmeister had four aces and 14 assists, and Maddy Huschitt added 14 assists for the Warriors team, which also got eight digs from Mia Jackson and two blocks each from Kristen Knapp and Delzer.
“We played relaxed. We knew we could do it and we did it,” Bailey Butler said. “It gives us good momentum (moving forward). We know we can play good if we work hard and play harder.”
Argyle was led by Jena Saalsaa, who had 11 kills and 14 digs. Senior Kirsten Ostby had 16 digs and senior Alysabeth Lantz added three blocks. The Orioles play a handful of freshmen in their varsity rotation as well, and received two aces from Grace Ganshert, 23 assists from Megan Johnson and eight kills from Godfrey.
“We didn’t play to the best of our ability, but they definitely deserved that win,” Jen Butler said. “They were confident, they were strong; they were definitely the better team tonight. We just have to come out and practice and work a little bit harder.”