Bothell High’s Maddie Butters hammered 439 kills, amassed 338 digs and served 36 aces this volleyball season.
With those stunning stats in her arsenal, the 6-foot-1 senior was named the 4A KingCo most valuable player.
“Being the only senior, I was just trying to work hard every practice and every game for my team. I think I did that to my best ability,” she said. “I think I just pushed myself a lot harder. I took more responsibility than I have in years past, which I think really helped me.”
She had a school-record 40 kills in a five-game win against Woodinville and notched her first match with 30-plus kills against Eastside Catholic (she finished with 33 on the night). Other top matches were 28 kills against Meadowdale in her first match as an outside hitter, and 28 kills against North Creek in the first round of the playoffs with the team avenging an early season loss with a five-game victory.
“What didn’t she bring to the team?” asked coach Russ Monsef, noting that the Cougar successfully switched positions to get more swings this season. “Butters works hard, and credit all her beach training to kind of make the transition going from middle to an outside. I think it takes a special person to win MVP, number one, but a really special person to do it when they’ve never played that position before.”
Whether it’s a huge kill or a tip to score points, Butters said she’s a hard worker. Her shoulder is a little sore after games, but she noted with a laugh, “That’s what ice is for.”
Monsef added that Butters’ back-row work was more impressive than her front-row activity. The Cougars (4-4 league, 8-9 overall) knew she could hit, and along the way she became a two-pronged threat as the team’s second best passer as well.
Butters said that in order to register kills, she needed solid passes and sets from the likes of teammates Tia Potts (libero), Faith Brooks and Alexis Termulo (both back row) and Haley Gaw (setter).
In her kill-heavy Woodinville game, Butters said she and all those players started clicking during the last three sets. The Cougars trailed at the start, but raised their energy and skills to check the victory off their list.
“I kind of just blank out and just focus on the game, so my adrenaline takes over. I think that’s when you know you’re in a good game. You know what your mission is and what you have to do, and I think that’s my favorite part of the whole game,” said Butters, who has been playing volleyball since the fourth grade. She played soccer until the eighth grade, but volleyball kicked that sport aside.
Butters has started playing beach volleyball seriously during the last year and said she’s leaning toward focusing on the sand game in college. Last week, she went on a recruiting trip to Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, a noted beach volleyball school.
She trains with the DaKine Volleyball Club in Tacoma for six hours each Sunday at the club’s indoor and outdoor beach facilities. To hone her game, she’s played in tournaments in California on the beaches in Huntington and Hermosa. More beach tourneys down south are on her docket in the upcoming months.
Controlling her own destiny is what she enjoys about playing on the beach.
“My friend always says, ‘There’s no bench in beach,’ so you can’t really hide behind anyone else. It’s all on you, which I like a lot,” said Butters, who off the court thrives in her art and English classes.
Speaking of the classroom, Butters would like to be a school teacher someday and has gained confidence this year in stepping to the forefront of her team — much like she’ll do with students looking up to her.
She’s usually quiet, but turned up her volume as the only senior and captain this season.
“I just really had to learn how to get out of my comfort zone for my team and step up as best as I could,” Butters said. “I think that helped me a lot and that’s gonna help me becoming more independent and just growing up.”
• Other 4A KingCo Northshore all-leaguers are:
Bothell — Honorable mention, Gaw and Lizzy Schrum
North Creek — First team, Gabby Kepley; second team, Alisa Kim and Allison Wilks; and honorable mention, Jenna Howard and Korynne Leon
Inglemoor — Second team, Kammi Perkins; and honorable mention, Maddie Smith and Grace Kim