The East Butler volleyball season has come to an end after losing in the first round of the sub-district playoffs to Centennial on Oct. 29 in three sets 25-16, 25-16 and 25-13.
The Tigers finished the 2018 season with a record of 11-19.
"I think we played sporadically at sub-districts, which can be partly attributed to not having a match in two weeks," said head coach Karmen Widick in comments sent to the Banner-Press.
"It is difficult to stay game-ready in situations like that. The girls played well in spurts but were not able to consistently keep up the level of play. A lot of that is because of the quality of the opponent. Centennial is a tough team to defend."
Before the sub-district tournament, the last competition for East Butler was on Oct. 15 in a victory against Nebraska Lutheran.
During the match against Centennial, senior Madison Helman recorded a team-high five kills and three aces, sophomore Addie Sullivan tallied six digs and 24 serve receptions and junior Kailyn Hummel dished out six assists.
The 11 wins is a three-year high for the Tigers, which now have double-digit wins in the past two years.
"One of the things I was most pleased with was the willingness of the girls to adapt to the different things we tried, specifically with rotations," Widick said. "We tried several different rotations and combinations of players on the court throughout the season, and the girls did a great job of adjusting as they needed to.
"Overall, I was pleased with our serving and serve receive. I think we really struggled with hitting errors and other unforced errors in general."
Senior Jadyn Robley collected 184 kills and 272 assists throughout the season to lead East Butler while also having a serve percentage of 95.5 percent on 286 serve attempts and 57 aces. Senior Erin Barta recorded a team-high 11 blocks while Sullivan led the Tigers in digs with 168.
"All of the seniors did a nice job of leading the team," Widick said. "Jadyn Robley has been starting since she was a freshman and is a quiet leader. She leads by example.
"Addie Sullivan played great defense for us this year. She was flying all over the court trying to keep balls playable. Roxanne Bergman returned after missing all of last season with an injury and gave us solid back row play as well."
Seniors Helman, Robley, Barta and Bergman have all played their last match for East Butler. This season was the most wins they have had since their freshman year.
"These seniors were on the district runner-up team as freshmen and a team that really struggled as sophomores," Widick said. "However, the last two years have seen double-digit wins for us and competitive play in an extremely tough conference.
"Perhaps most importantly, they have shown their teammates they can enjoy the game and still work hard - it does not have to be one or the other."
With the 2018 season over, Widick is already looking toward 2019.
"The girls need to increase their volleyball IQ and really become students of the game. They need to know when to take a swing and when to just keep the ball in play," she said. They also need to commit to becoming physically stronger so they can serve and hit with power.
"I think we have a great core group coming back and have some young players that got valuable playing time at the varsity level this year. Some of the eighth graders coming in could also contribute right away."
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net