DILLON — The University of Montana Western avenged a Frontier Conference loss to the Westminster Griffins on Saturday, Oct. 20. The Bulldogs were able to win their fourth straight home match in four sets, 25-20, 23-25, 25-15, 25-20. The Montana Western win also broke a 16-game losing streak against Westminster College.
The previous meeting between the Bulldogs and Griffins took place on Sept. 8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The match saw Westminster come away with the win in straight sets 26-24, 25-16, 25-22.
“I’m incredibly proud of the fight the girls showed on Saturday,” head coach Lisa Griffiths stated. “They showed a great blend of composure and competitiveness against a strong Westminster team who continued to attack throughout the match.”
Brea Mitchell led all hitters with 12 kills on a 0.286 percentage. She also came up with three digs and two blocks. Paige Latimer earned her ninth double-double of the season with 36 assists and 12 digs.
Consistent contributor Bailey Branson had 11 kills and 18 digs for her sixth double-double of the season. Shelby Mack had one ace to go along with her 29 digs. Mack has hit the double digit mark in digs in 10 out of 12 conference matches this season.
Other defensive numbers included Breanne Kelley with 15 digs and Charelle Minor with three blocks. Emily Erickson added five digs, eight kills, an ace and a block.
Although the Bulldogs did not have a great offensive night statistically, many of their swings forced the Griffins to scramble and limited them to a 0.098 hitting percentage.
Westminster was led by Alexis Aalona, Ashley Marchant, Stephanie Jones Morin and Kenzie Mitchell with seven kills apiece. Kyndall Kordakis picked up 30 digs while Emily Atkinson dished 30 assists.
“We have seen such a big improvement in the team play just from the beginning of the season,” Griffiths said. “It’s a completely different team that is playing now than during preseason. I knew there would be a learning curve with so many young players and I’m excited to see them growing up and coming together at the right time.”
The University of Montana Western is currently tied for seventh place in the conference with a 10-14, 5-7 record. The Bulldogs have three home matches remaining and one on the road.
The Frontier Conference continues to show competitive matches with any given team able to win. With only two weeks to go in the regular season, Lewis-Clark State and Carroll College are tied for first with eight wins apiece. They are followed by the University of Great Falls and Montana State University-Northern with seven wins apiece and Westminster College and Rocky Mountain College with six wins apiece.
On Thursday, Oct. 25, the MSU-Northern Skylights host Montana Western at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs will return home to host Carroll College on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 5 p.m.
“We will refocus and get right back to work,” Griffiths added. “We face two tough opponents this week and every match is very important as we close out the regular season and get ready for the conference tournament.”
— UM Western Sports Information