Kavran digs up record, but Northern outlasts Tech

Montana State-Northern’s power by match’s end put a damper on Kimmy Kavran’s record-setting night in volleyball Friday night at the Montana Tech HPER Complex.

Kavran finished with 28 digs for the night and the true freshman from Missoula re-set the Montana Tech single-season digs record. However, the Orediggers fell 33-35, 25-15, 20-25, 25-21, 15-13 to Northern in a very competitive Frontier Conference match.

Abby Nicholas sent home the final point, a kill, in the tie-breaker after the Orediggers had closed to within a point, 14-13, on a hard shot by Sydney Norris set up partly by a great save bumped up from Anaconda senior Kristin King.

The Skylights nabbed the tiebreaker lead for good at 13-12 on a Nicholas kill.

Kavran got the feat out of the way in a hurry with five digs in the first game after needing one to tie Kaila Minehan’s mark of 2002. Minehan is now the Butte Central High School head volleyball coach.

Kavrran now has 635digs  for the season with plenty of matches left to play. Minehan’s mark was 608.

Kavran had five digs in the first game, a marathon set, as she emphatically began ownership of the Montana Tech season digs record.

“I know the first one came off the block,“ Kavran said about the dig that tied the school record. “The second one, I’m not sure about.“

The libero, holding several gifts given her by family members and friends, said she is excited about still having five regular-season matches in which she can add to her record.

The teams dueled in a long first game before two Northern errors ended it. Kelsey Williams and Nicholas both pummeled shots long. The Orediggers had led the set by 14-10 before the Skylights blasted their way back even play.

Montana Tech just couldn’t knock Northern’s block off in the second game. Three straight blocks — two by Haley Russell and one by Nicholas — took the Skylights to game point at 24-14. Korey Krumm delayed end of set for the Orediggers with a tip for point before Sydney Norris’ shot sailed long, putting the set’s last point on the board for Northern.

Freshman Mikayla Sullivan’s kill through a Northern block ended the third game with Montana Tech winning. A hitting error by Northern’s Hillary Isleifson had given the Orediggers game point at 24-19. Kavran’s four-point serving run had helped to open a 20-17 Montana Tech advantage. The run began with a combined block by Lacey Phelan and Norris to square the score at 17-all.

The Skylights took control of game four early, going ahead for good at 3-2 on an ace serve by Williams. It began a Williams serving run that took Northern to a 7-2 advantage and the Skylights were never caught. However, Montana Tech lurked fairly close throughout as the teams battled on hard shots and hand fighting at the net. A whistling Shersteen Cline serve tangled in the net to give the Skylight game point at 24-21 before Haley Russell patted back a soft block that found open space on the Oredigger side of the net to land, ending the set.

“Even though we lost, I feel like it was a really good match,” Kavran said. “As you can see, from the first set to having to go to a fifth, it was very competitive. It was a great match to play and gives us even more motivation to go even harder against L-C (Saturday).

The Orediggers are to play NAIA 24th-ranked and five-time defending league champion  L-C (Lewis-Clark State) at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the HPER Complex.

The win put Northern at 7-4 in the Frontier Conference this year. The Skylights are 13-12 overall. Montana Tech is 4-7 and 14-9.

Northern was led against the Orediggers by Nicholas with 20 kills, Joni Nagy with 51 assists, Kelsey Williams with two aces, libero Holly Cartwright with 31 digs, and Russell with seven blocks. For Montana Tech, Cline nailed 23 kills and Norris notched 20, Alison Lunde put up 52 assists and fired two aces, Korey Krumm had three blocks and Kavran chalked up her 28 digs.

Montana State-Northern def. Montana Tech 33-35, 25-15, 20-25, 25-21, 15-13.

Kills — Northern 63 (Abby Nicholas 20, Hilary Isleifson 17, Kelsey Williams 13, Victoria Polo 7, Joni Nagy 4, Haley Russell 2), Tech 74 (Shersteen Cline 23, Sydney Norris 20, Korey Krumm 16, Mikayla Sullivan 13, Lacey Phelan 1, Jesse Bowden 1). Assists — Northern 54 (Nagy 51, Nicholas 2, Williams 1),  Tech 69 (Alison Lunde 52, Bowden 10, Kimmy Kavran 3, Krumm 2, Cline 2). Aces — Northern 4 (Williams 2, Nagy 1, Isleifson 1), Tech 3 (Lunde 2, Cline 1). Digs — Northern 102 (Holly Cartwright 31, Nicholas 22, Isleifson 16, Williams 14, Nagy 12, Polo 6, Russell 1), Tech 100 (Kavran 28, Phelan 19, Norris 14, Lunde 12, Kirstin King 11, Sullivan 9, Cline 4, Krumm 3). Blocks — Northern 12 (Russell 7, Nicholas 6, Polo1 Williams 1, Nagy 1, Isleifson 1), Tech 8 (Krumm 3, Sullivan 2, Norris 1, Cline 1, Phelan 1).