Orediggers make short work of Blue Hawks

Montana Tech served aces for breakfast to Dickinson State on Friday morning,
The Orediggers sizzled 15 service aces through the Dickinson State alignment on the way to a 25-12, 25-17, 25-11 sweep in play at The Big Sky Volleyball Challenge being held in the Montana Tech HPER Complex.
Freshmen Kylee Berridge and Hannah Liss led the way with five and four aces, respectively.
“Our serving was fantastic,” Brian Solomon, head coach of the Orediggers, said. “And for as aggressively as we served, we didn’t miss many.”
It was so good and so dominant that even the Montana Tech front-line players had to watch. They didn’t get much of a chance to do anything else.
“The front row was a little boring,” middle blocker Bailie Cortner joked. “It was like ‘when is it our turn, Kylee?’ But their serving makes our job a lot easier and makes it so we’re not having to work for four or five points.”
Cortner said the freshman servers looked pretty good in preseason, but have been a nice surprise once the team got into regular match schedule.
“We went to California and right away Kylee had like seven aces,” she said. “Then, Hannah Liss has just a crazy serve. Angie (Pancoast) had a good day today, too.”
Dickinson State did show a pretty good block, however, and forced the Oredigger hitters to sometimes try to hit over instead of through the Blue Hawks. The Montana Tech players held a slight height advantage at the net. It was not as easy as it looked, the 6-foot-2 Cortner said.
“We knew this might not be one of our harder matches, but we also knew that if we didn’t play up to our potential, we could drop a game or two, or even the match,” she said. “It’s a big adjustment going against their blockers and trying to hit it down.”
The win raised Montana Tech’s season record to 6-1 going into a Friday evening match against Hope International of Fullerton, Calif. The Orediggers have Saturday matches versus College of Idaho at 11 a.m. and The Master’s College of Newhall, Calif., at 7 p.m.
Jordan Danz and Sydney Norris led the Montana Tech hitters with nine kills. Cortner nailed eight while going 8-for-10 on her attempts. Makenzie Bausch set 27 assists. Pancoast came up with 11 digs and fired three aces.
“Our kids moved the ball around on offense well,” Solomon said. “Both Sydney (Norris) and Jordan hit well on the left side. The hardest part about playing today is some of our kids are taking tests in between the matches and we hope they’re mentally ready. We want to be in the habit of playing our best every time out.”
The nursing students on the team were the ones taking exams Friday. They were likely among the ones up early preparing and not letting the 9 a.m. start be a bother.
“The team was ready to play,” Solomon said with a smile. “Let’s keep it rolling.”
Montana Tech cruised in the first game. The Orediggers jumped ahead 4-1 on a serving run by Berridge. Liss buried two aces in a three-point led and Montana Tech led 9-4. The Orediggers built on the advantage and Liss served the team to a five-point run and game-point, 24-11 command. After a side-out, Haley Druyvestein finessed in a tip for the winning point.
Montana Tech belted seven aces in winning game two, a set which saw Dickinson State race to a 7-4 lead. Pancoast sparked the Oredigger rally with three aces in a five-point run for a 10-7 edge. Berridge served a five-point run and Danz and Bauck both also ripped serving runs in the comeback. Norris spiked game point at 24-14, but it took three more serves before the Orediggers were able to score the winner, again on a Norris kill.
The Montana Tech serving prowess in the match was evident again in game three as the Orediggers sealed the deal on a five-point run by Berridge that included three aces, including the winning point after a Blue Hawk hitting error tallied game point Berridge staked her team to the early advantage with a five-point surge that opened a 9-2 gap in Montana Tech’s favor. The Blue Hawks never led and never threatened.

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