Diggers host block party, complete Northern sweep

Diggers host block party, complete Northern sweep
Tech’s Kiya Loobey, left, and Taylor Henley go up for a block as Rylee Burmester of MSU-Northern hits Saturday afternoon at the HPER Complex. (Bill Foley photo)

By Bill Foley

It was a party the MSU-Northern Skylights did not know they were invited too.

“Welcome to the Digger block party,” Montana Tech sophomore Kaylene Davis yelled each time the Orediggers racked up a block Saturday afternoon.

She yelled that a lot, too, as the Orediggers dominated at the net on their way to a 25-16, 25-12, 25-18 Frontier Conference sweep of the Skylights at the HPER Complex.  (Stats)

Montana Tech registered 11 team blocks in the sweep.

“She does all the time,” Tech sophomore Taylor Henley, a key forcer in the block party, said of Davis.

Henley, a Kalispell Flathead product, assisted in four of those Oredigger blocks as Tech rebounded from last week’s two losses at Rocky Mountain College with convincing wins against the Skylights.

Tech did not trail in either set while running its winning streak against the Skylights to 14 matches. The streak dates back to 2014.

“We came in with a lot more confidence than we did earlier against Rocky,” Henley said. “We worked harder this week after the tough loss. At practice we were getting after it, and it just contributed to the game and how we were playing.”

Tech coach Brian Solomon pointed to the Oredigger blocking game as the key for the team playing so well.

“That was a good day blocking,” Solomon said. “We really helped our defense out by the way we played in the front row. We were able to slow down a lot of balls, touch them and get some stuff blocks.”

The victory started and finished with the Orediggers having fun. Henley played the air guitar as the Orediggers danced around to the music before the first serve.

“It was a good time,” Henley said. “We enjoy volleyball and enjoy the time we get to spend with each other. So, we make it a lot of fun.”

Sophomore Maureen Jessop registered nine kills to lead Tech’s balanced attack. Senior Karina Mickelson added seven, while Taylor spiked six and junior Sydney Sparks killed four. Tech also got three kills from freshman Megan Benton, two from freshman Logan Reed and one from sophomore setter McKenna Kaelber.

Kaelber handed out 26 assists, and sophomore libero Hannah Oggerino collected a match-high 10 digs. Freshman Sarah Hopcroft added seven digs, and sophomore Hudsyn Dibrito dug six.

Parks joined Henley with four assisted blocks. Mickelson and junior Kiya Loobey each added a solo block and two assists. Kaelber assisted on three.

Alana Graves spiked 10 kills to lead the Skylights, who fell to 1-3. Rylee Burmester added six kills, and Emily Feller dished out 20 assists.

The Orediggers are back in action next Friday and Saturday when they take on the University of Providence in Great Falls. They are back at home Feb. 19 and 20 to take on Montana Western.

Solomon said expects his masked Orediggers to keep dancing and having fun.

“They were really supporting each other,” the coach said. “They’re goofy. You can imagine how many times I’m serious, too. We fit each other well.”


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