Even a round ball can take some funny bounces in fall sports. However, the Carroll College Saints were not laughing Saturday night.
A Carroll return of serve caromed off a Montana Tech HPER Complex ceiling box and landed back on the Saints’ side of the net to finish off a 19-25, 23-25, 25-17, 25-18, 15-11 Oredigger comeback victory in a Frontier Conference college volleyball match.
The Orediggers led the tiebreaker 5-4 after a Lacey Phelan tip capped an exhausting rally that sent the two teams to battle through several hits. Phelan then served an ace.
A Sydney Norris serving run later expanded the margin to 9-5 and the Saints were unable to pull even.
Carroll did get to within 13-11 after a Rebecca Sweeney ace and then an Oredigger hitting error. However, Kathleen Mulligan hit a shot too far for the Saints and then the match-ender followed.
The win followed on the heels of a Montana Tech victory over the University of Great Falls Friday night.
Oredigger head coach Brian Solomon termed the results an important weekend for the program.
“We not only competed with, but beat two quality teams,” he said. “We had important contributions from the seniors and we played great overall defense.”
The Saints seemed superior the first two games, then flattened after the 10-minute break for fan participation games between the second and third sets. Fatigue might have factored. Carroll beat Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston, Idaho, on Friday night before busing to Butte for Saturday’s match.
“That’s not an excuse,” said Butte native and Carroll head coach Maureen “Mo” (Tutty) Boyle. “We played hard. But our serve-receive-passing gave us trouble. That made it hard for us to get into the games.
“They (the Orediggers) played well. I’m sure they out-hit us and out-dug us, pretty much out-statted us in everything.”
Two plays by Bozeman junior Elli Graff finished off the first game, putting Carroll ahead. Graff first pounded a floater that came over the net from the Montana Tech side on an accidental set. It put game point at 24-19.
Graff then pasted a shot ruled having grazed Oredigger fingertips. It counted for the set-ending point.
The Saints took the lead for good on game one on a serving error, then used a Sarah Roshak kill and Graff block to build a 21-18 advantage.
Game two seemed to belong to Montana Tech until Carroll’s Natalie Stewart and Rebecca Sweeney produced serving runs that took the Saints from a 21-15 deficit to a 23-22 edge. The Orediggers had led 20-12 after a Roshak hit traveled wide.
The Saints’ lead didn’t come until Calli Prestwood nailed back-to-back kills for game point and the game-ender, 24-23 and 25-23.
The Orediggers secured a game three win, going ahead of Carroll at 15-14 when Emily Burk of the Saints served the ball outside the lines. Lacey Phelan then toed the line for Montana Tech and served the Orediggers to a 19-15 lead, starting with an ace and buoyed by two Sydney Norris kills. Montana Tech maintained the distance and got to game point on Phelan tip for a 24-17 score before Carroll hitters fumbled the ball at the net, failing to knock it over, which ended the game.
Allison Lunde’s cross-court set for a sizzling kill by Shersteen Cline gave the Orediggers set point in game four, 24-18. Then, Korey Krumm knocked down the block for the winner, sending the match into the tie-breaker game.
Montana Tech had taken control of the game four lead with Mikayla Sullivan serving a run of six points to a 23-16 margin. She blasted an ace and was helped by two big points from line on a stuff and a long, soft kill. Krumm fenced up a block.
“Shersteen Cline had 19 kills tonight and 21 last night,” Solomon pointed out. “Carroll is a great team, a great blocking team and to out-hit them is an achievement. We were out blocked in the first two games, then everybody on the front row started getting better reads. Defensively, it was a community effort.
“We struggled with confidence early. Confidence is something only you can give yourself. You don’t want another team to take it away from you.”
Sullivan wound up with 14 kills and Krumm with 12. Lunde set 48 assists. Sullivan and Krumm each registered five blocks. Phelan notched three aces. The digs brigade was led by libero Kimmy Kavran with 41, Norris with 20, Kirstin King with 18, Lunde 15 and Phelan 13.
Carroll leaders included Graff with 16 kills and six blocks, Natalie Stewart with 23 assists, Prestwood with six blocks and Madeline Laan with 22 digs,
Montana Tech def. Carroll 19-25, 23-25, 25-17, 25-18, 15-11.
Kills — Carroll 51 (Elli Graff 16, Calli Prestwood 8, Kathleen Mulligan 8, Rebecca Sweeney 6, Demi Belshe 5, Natalie Stewart 2, Emily Burk 2, Mo Ritter 2, Sarah Roshak 1, Nicole Davey 1), Montana Tech 62 (Shersteen Cline 19, Mikayla Sullivan 14, Korey Krumm 12, Sydney Norris 9, Lacey Phelan 7, Alison Lunde 1). Assists — Carroll 44 (Stewart 23, Burk 15, Roshak 3, Belshe 1, Prestwood 1, Sweeney 1), Montana Tech 59 (Lunde 48, Jesse Bowden 9, Kimmy Kavran 2). Aces — Carroll 3 (Belshe 1, Graff 1, Sweeney 1), Montana Tech 8 (Phelan 3, Lunde 2, Kavran 2, Sullivan 1). Digs — Carroll 113 (Madeline Laan 22, Stewart 21, Sweeney 21, Catie Hanser 14, Burk 12, Graff 5, Prestwood 4, Mulligan 4, Belshe 3, Roshak 3, Ritter 3, Davey 1), Montana Tech 119 (Kavran 41, Norris 20, Kirstin King 18, Lunde 15, Phelan 13, Krumm 5, Cline 5, Sullivan 2). Blocks — Carroll 13 (Graff 6, Prestwood 6, Mulligan 2, Belshe 2, Roshak 1), Montana Tech 12 (Sullivan 5, Krumm 5, Cline 2).