Mikayla Butzke is doing whatever it takes on the court to help the Dos Pueblos girls volleyball team win. She’s diving for balls, making “gator digs” on driven hits, blocking, serving aces and putting up beautiful sets for her hitters.
She had the full repertoire going Thursday night, and the visiting Chargers responded with a sweep of Santa Barbara High, 25-12, 27-25, 25-21, at J.R. Richards Gym.
The win leaves DP in sole possession of second place at the end of the first round of Channel League play at 4-1. Santa Barbara is 3-2.
Butzke, a 6-foot junior setter, dished out 36 assists, served three aces, had four kills and picked up at least 10 digs in the match many of them coming as she sprawled on the floor.
“I love playing defense,” she said. “In softball, I love diving everywhere and in basketball I dive everywhere. And, when I played soccer, I played goalie, so diving is just in my forte.
“Diving on the volleyball court just comes natural and it’s so much fun to dig a ball and hear the crowd go wild. I love it.”
Said DP coach Megan O’Carroll: “She’s aggressive, she’s fearless. I never have to worry about her hitting the floor for a ball. She’s the one we always need to get new jerseys for because she’s got holes in the elbows and in the hip area, because she spends so much time diving and hustling. She is one of a kind.”
Butzke made some big plays down the stretch in second and third sets. In the second, with the score tied at 22-22, she fed Ally Mintzer on the outside and the senior middle put it away. On the next play, she took a ball that was headed toward the net, got low and pushed a hand set to Mintzer in the middle for a kill and a 24-22 lead.
“Setting Ally is great. She can put the ball away no matter what set,” said Butzke.
Santa Barbara battled back to tie the score before Butzke went back to Mintzer again for another kill.
Talia Medel of the Dons got a touch on a spike to knot the score at 25, but DP answered, with Butzke setting Kaylee Curtis on the right side and Curtis scoring on a tip.
“The one thing I love about her is she actually sees the court when she goes up to hit the ball,” O’Carroll said of the sophomore Curtis. “She’s actually looking for those open shots. She utilized that beautifully with full shots, tips and just placing the ball. You don’t have to be the strongest hitter out there, you have to be the smartest. Tonight, she was highly intelligent.”
Fittingly for DP, it was Butzke who closed out the second set with an ace serve.
Dos Pueblos was leading 20-19 in the third set when Butzke turned what looked like a sure tying point for Santa Barbara into a two-point DP advantage. On a ball that was headed into the net, she pulled it out and executed a perfect bump set that Olivia Andrews put away.
After setting Curtis on the left pin for a kill, Butzke served an aced for a 23-19 lead.
She later set Portia Sherman for the final point.
The freshman Sherman led a balanced DP attack with 13 kills, several coming from the back row. Mintzer put down 12 kills and Curtis provided a boost on the outside with eight kills.
On defense, senior libero Alison Minnich picked up 15 digs.
Butzke said the Chargers played relaxed and had fun on the court.
“In the beginning of the game, we came together as a team, we were dancing together, we were jumping up and down, we were really hyped,” she explained. “I noticed a big difference between the San Marcos match (their only league loss). We were all very quiet, not talking to each.”
She noted the play of Sherman and Curtis was key against the Dons.
“They’re young players. I think the San Marcos game shook them up a little bit because our coach hyped it up. But this game, it was just have fun, and Kaylee and Portia really reflected the having-fun part and they really killed it tonight. I’m so happy for them.”
Santa Barbara played a spirited game, too. But the Dons were without 6-2 senior outside hitter Chloe Mauceri — sideline with a concussion suffered at Saturday’s Royal Tournament— and they hurt themselves with a slow start in the first set.
“We’re definitely the type of team that waits to long to start fighting,” Dons coach Ariana Garner said. “The last five points is when we starting playing our best volleyball. Moving forward, we really need to focus on the first set. That’s what kind of kills our momentum for the remainder of the match.”
Garner saw some “mini victories” in the match. She said the team’s passing and serve receive was its best of the season.
“Now we just need to convert on offense,” she said. “We got to play the first five points like the last five points of the set. We need to come out with a lot more fire and heart than we do.”
Reese Kelley led the Dons with 11 kills, two aces and a 2.67 passing average. Annabel Caesar had six kills and hit .300.