By Bruce Sayler
The Montana Tech blocking game seemed extraordinaire in its sweep of Mulnomah Saturday. The serving game dealt enough aces to overcome some wildness.
So, the Orediggers were 25-14, 25-22 25-14 winners in their afternoon match of the Big Sky Volleyball Challenge at the Butte Civic Center. Stats
They stacked up nine team blocks, and fired 11 aces. Senior Haley Druyvestein notched a solo blocks and six assists to boss the middle of the net, and serving specialist Hannah Liss flashed the hot hand with si aces, four in the first game.
“Our blockers were making very good reads,” Montana Tech head coach Brian Solomon said. “Haley did a good job working out of the middle. And, Hannah served great with a couple of really nice runs. Eleven aces (for the team) is a really good number.”
The Orediggers dominated without the benefit of much of a pre-look at the Lions. Solomon said the pressure was on the players to make the necessary reads on the fly.
“It’s a mental game,” said the 6-foot-1 Druyvestein. “It’s staying on your keys and being focused. You’re always looking for the right things on the right moves. There was a lot of eye work on their setter and hitters.”
Druyvestein, from Missoula, said blockers are sometimes called on to match up directly with a particular opponent at the net, or even double, maybe triple, up on her. With not knowing much about the Multnomah team ahead of time, though, such wasn’t the case for the Saturday match.
Knowing the game and reading the attack made the right ploys happen defensively for Montana Tech.
Druyvestein missed last season recovering from ACL surgery, but said she feels she is now at full strength and said it has been nice the first two weeks of the season to play against somebody other than teammates.
“I can barely remember hurting it,” she said of the now repaired knee. “That’s really helpful with the mental and confidence.”
She was a confident performer Saturday afternoon.
Liss fired aces on three of her first six serves as the Orediggers rolled out to a 6-0 cushion to open the match against the squad from Portland, Oregon. The advantage grew to 15-4 after a kill by Angela Molesworth before Montana Tech appeared to let down some, and Multnomah rallied to within 18-13 after a kill by Miranda Halverson.
Nicole Peacock took over the Oredigger serve at 21-14 and finished out the set at the line, her team scoring on two Lion errors along with two points by Masha Korol — on a tip kill and a block.
Tori Chelini served Montana Tech to a 4-0 lead to start the second game with one of the points coming on an ace. Multnomah hanged a little closer and was within 12-11 after a tip by Madysen Trout. The Lions took two small leads, at 14-13 on a kill by Hannah Snyder and 15-14 when Oredigger Gena McMillen powered a rocket into the net.
The score was either tied or led by Montana Tech the rest of the set. Druyvestein keyed a block for a 23-22 edge, then teamed with McMillen on a block for set point. Liss aced the winner.
Peacock fired out for a wire-to-wire Oredigger lead in the third game. She toed the line with her team holding a 5-3 edge and tallied two aces in a four-point run to add some distance to the Lions’ task. They couldn’t overcome it.
Another block led by Druyvestein doubled the margin to 20-10, and match point was eventually reached, 24-13, on a Multnomah service error Sabrina DeJesus-Bair committed. After Snyder blocked for the Lions, Halverson’s serve sailed too far and the match was finished.
Ther win lifted the Montana Tech season record to 5-2. The Orediggers are ranked 14th nationally in NAIA.
“Hopefully, we’re lined up now for a high-level game tonight,” Solomon said, referring to Saturday’s 7 p.m. match with 10th-ranked Grand View.
Molesworth smashed seven kills to lead the Montana Tech attack against Multnomah. Chelini dealt 21 assists. The Lions’ hitting problems meant only 11 digs for the Orediggers, total.
Multnomah hit just minus-.017 as a team, but Halverson led all players in kills with eight. Marissa Rhodes put up 15 assists and Emily Weidlick scratched out 10 digs. The Lions notched five blocks, including three assisted ones involving Trout.