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Diggers sweep Dawgs

Diggers sweep Dawgs
Montana Tech, Montana Western

By Bruce Sayler

The NAIA 23rd-ranked Montana Tech volleyball team drove in the last spike of a successful Oredigger athletics day Saturday with a 25-23, 25-22, 25-19 sweep over rival Montana Western.

The Frontier Conference match in the Montana Tech HPER Complex followed the Orediggers’ 73-62 victory over Dickinson State in women’s basketball and the 62-10 romp over Rocky Mountain in Frontier Conference football.

It was a three-for-threer and the V on Butte Hill was duly strobing Saturday night.

The day ended not really with a spike, but with an ace serve as Montana Tech senior Angie Pancost pasted one through the Montana Western defense for the final 25-19 score. It fended off yet another rally by the Bulldogs, who were not about to give in without snarls.

“We scored really well from both middles,” Brian Solomon, head coach of the Orediggers, said as he surveyed the final statistics. “They (Bailie Cortner and Katie Wiley) had half of our kills. So, I was glad to see both of them on at the same time.”

Wiley notched 13 kills and Cortner 10 of the team’s 45. Makenzie Bauck set 37 of the 40 the Orediggers registered.

The win was Montana Tech’s eighth in its last nine matches. The Orediggers lost a five-set gruel to Rocky Mountain Friday night on the Kelvin Sampson Court in the complex. So, some relief had to be seen, too, in how the team bounced back after its win streak, signifying its best volleyball playing of the fall, had ended.

“The sweep, it was good,” Solomon said. “We were a little streaky in two sets, but (the Bulldogs) are always good, defensively. They do a really good job of playing fast. Their transition and digging balls puts a lot of stress on you.”

Every game was a battle. A wide hit by Montana Western’s Brittany Erickson broke a 9-all tie and the Orediggers seized the opportunity to run off four straight points with Bauck at the service line. Cortner tallied twice in the run with a stuff and a kill. Montana Tech led the rest of the game, except for the 23-all tie forged when a block by Bulldog Kylie McCree ended an exceedingly long rally. A kill by Wiley gained match point, though, and then Jordan Danz combined with Cortner on a block that finished the set.

The Orediggers led all through the second game, but never by more than six points and that spread occurred early, 9-3, after a kill by Cortner. Montana Western clawed back to within 16-15 on a kill by Cady Siemion, but could not catch Montana Tech. The Orediggers held a two-to-four-point space the remainder of the set, reaching game point at 24-20 when a Siemion kill try traveled too far, and then scoring the winning point, three serves later, when Bauck set for another Cortner kill.

The third set was tied six times before Montana Tech grabbed control of the lead for good, 15-14 on a kill by Nicole Peacock. Danz then fired an ace and Cortner fenced up a block, and the Orediggers had a little more room in their lead. Match point arrived at 24-19 after the Bulldogs’ Bailey Wilson walloped a shot past the end line. Pancost’s ace finished the match.

“I’m glad our serving was back,” Solomon said.

The comment could have come with the ace in mind, as it was one of five, each from a different plahyer, Montana Tech charted for the match. Bauck, Danz, Hannah Liss and Heather Thompson nailed the others. Bauck also led the team in digs with 10, and Danz and Cortner each turned in four blocks.

Montana Western leaders included Tessa Miller with 10 kills, Callie Hanson with 24 assists, Siemion with two aces, libero Dylan Fowler with 14 digs and McCree with four blocks.

The win gave Montana Tech an 18-8 season record with a 6-4 overall mark while the Bulldogs fell to 4-6 and 11-13. The Orediggers will go  against Great Falls on Thursday for their regular-season home finale, the same night Montana Western is to play at home against league-leader Carroll.

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