Freshman Camila Espejo had a career-high 20 kills, including nine in a huge second-set rally, to lead the Hutchinson Community College volleyball team to a critical Jayhawk West sweep of Butler on Wednesday at the Sports Arena.
The Blue Dragons won three tight sets over the Grizzlies 28-26, 25-22, 29-27. Hutch and Butler split the season series with Hutchinson. The Grizzlies swept the Blue Dragons on Sept. 23 in El Dorado.
The Blue Dragons, 12-17 overall, move to 8-6 in the Jayhawk West. Butler, 16-11 overall, finishes its conference season at 8-8. Hutchinson has two more league matches remaining — Independence at home on Saturday and at Barton on Monday. One win in either of those final two matches will clinch a home match for the opening round of the Region VI Tournament on Nov. 5.
Blue Dragon coach Patrick Hall also moves within one victory of his milestone 200th win with the Blue Dragons.
With leading hitter Katelyn Elstun being used sparingly down the stretch, Espejo came up huge for the Blue Dragons against Butler.
Espejo had a season-high 21 kills on 39 attacks with a .487 attack percentage to lead the Blue Dragons. Trailing 19-12 in the second set, Espejo had a huge second set to lead a Blue Dragon comeback. Espejo hammered home nine kills in the second set, the most kills in any single set this season by a Dragon hitter, getting five in a set-clinching 10-2 run.
Freshman Jenna Thorne had 10 kills, hitting .250 on 25 swings. Freshman Myracle Lettries and sophomore Eden Hiebert had six kills each. Jaydin Schake had five kills.
Butler held a 9-6 blocks advantage. Lettries had two solo and five total blocks. Thorne had three blocks. Hutchinson had six service aces, four by Hiebert. Freshman libero Alissa Bautista had 16 digs.
Sophomore setter Eboni Sapien posted her third double-double of the season with 47 assists and 11 digs.
Milayna Hollinger had 12 kills and three blocks to lead to lead the Grizzlies. Morgan Bryand and Jaryn Benning had nine kills each.
Set 1: The Blue Dragons got off to a fast start. A kill and two-straight aces by Hiebert followed by a Thorne/Lettries double block gave Hutch a 7-1 lead. A Thorne kill made it 10-2. Schake’s kill helped Hutch maintain a 13-6 lead, but the Grizzlies went on a 12-3 run and led 18-16 after a Benning back-row kill. A Lettries kill snapped that run and started a 7-2 Hutch run. Espejo had three kills helped the Dragons take a 23-20 lead. A Schake kill brought the Dragons a set point. Hutch had to fight off a set point against with a Hiebert kill to knot the score at 25. Tied at 26, Hiebert hit a cross-court kill and the Grizzlies put an attack in the net on set-point No. 3 to give the Dragons a 28-26 first-set win.
Set 2: Butler came out the aggressor in the second set in building leads of 4-0, 8-3, 11-4 and 13-6. Espejo had three kills and Schake’s termination capped a 6-2 run to pull the Dragons within 15-11. Butler stretched its lead back out to 19-12, which is where the Dragon comeback started. A Sapien ace pulled the Dragons within 19-15. A pair of Lettries blocks drew the Dragons within 20-19. At 21-19, Espejo took over with five kills in the final eight rallies. A Hiebert ace gave Hutch a 23-22 lead before Espejo closed out the set with back-to-back kills for a 25-22 Dragon win.
Set 3: Tied at 9-all, the Blue Dragons scored four-straight points to take a 13-9 lead after a Morgan Armburst/Schake double block. Two Espejo kills and a Grizzly attack error capped a 7-1 run for a 16-10 Hutch lead. The Dragons looked to be in good shape after a Bautista ace that gave the Dragons a 22-19 lead. Butler scored four straight to take a 23-22 lead. Schake then delivered a kill and Hiebert had her fourth ace for a 24-23 lead. With Butler leading 25-24, the Dragons erased a set-point against with an Espejo kill. Butler fought off two more match points. Tied at 27, Espejo’s 21st kill of the match was from the back row for a 28-27 lead. Butler was called for a double contact on match point No. 4 to close out the match. There were 13 ties and three lead changes in the third set.