DILLON — The University of Montana Western volleyball team traveled 925 total miles to take on Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho on Saturday, Sept. 15. Although the match did not end in the Bulldogs’ favor, the long trip was still a step in the right direction. The Lewis-Clark Warriors handled the Bulldogs in straight sets, 25-19, 25-20, 25-17.
“It was great to see the team compete against one of the best teams in our conference,” head coach Lisa Griffiths stated. “Lewis-Clark was picked to win the Frontier and it is easy to see why with the powerful attack they have up front.”
Emily Erickson led Montana Western in kills with five, in digs with eight and in service aces with two. Brea Mitchell and Breanne Kelley each had four kills and Mitchell added two blocks. Bailey Branson and Shelby Mack picked up eight and seven digs, respectively. Paige Latimer added 14 assists, three kills, one ace and four digs.
Griffiths noted the play of her young players, who have been leading the team both offensively and defensively. Erickson, Kelley and Latimer are all sophomores while Mitchell is a freshman.
The Warriors’ top three hitters going into the match were Treneisha Doyle (outside), Brianne Brown (right side) and Keisha Leubbert-Kennedy (middle). The Bulldogs were able to control all three of these threats. Doyle had five kills and eight errors for a –o.188 percentage, Brown was allowed seven kills with a 0.125 percentage and Leubbert-Kennedy had a slightly better hitting percentage at 0.188 and also picked up seven kills.
The difference of the game was a new face on the floor for the Warriors. Niurka Toribio, playing in her first week of the season, had a huge night with 15 kills on a 0.481 percentage, eight service aces and six digs.
“We have come a long way from last season and, although there is definitely work to be done, it was nice to see the improvement in all aspects of the game,” Griffiths said. “As a team we have been focusing on controlling our errors and making our opponents earn their points and we were able to do that against L-C. We played probably the most controlled volleyball we have played all season.”
This week, Montana Western hosts Montana State University-Northern on Thursday, Sept. 20 and the University of Great Falls on Saturday, Sept. 22. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.
The Northern Skylights sport a 9-8 (3-0 conference) record and are led by Kelsey Williams (2.35 kills/set), Abby Nicholas (2.86 kills/set and 0.83 blocks/set), Hillary Isleifson (2.57 kills/set), Holly Cartwright (3.85 digs/set) and Joni Nagi (6.18 assists/set).
The 9-7 (0-1 conference) UGF Argos are led by senior outside hitter Kelsey Van Uden, who is fourth in the nation in kills per set with 4.34. Rebecca Kershner adds 1.55 kills and 0.98 blocks per set while Jenna Prescott contributes 3.61 digs per game.
— Montana Western Sports Information