Montana Tech’s volleyball team likely earned some new fans Friday night.
A bunch of screaming young girls were on hand for “Elementary Night” at the HPER Complex, and the Orediggers responded with an expired 22-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-20 win over the University of Great Falls.
“It was a nice community support tonight,” Oredigger coach Brian Solomon said of the overly-vocal crowd that helped lift his team to its first win its last seven matches. “It’s a little bit different. That’s the first time we’ve had that.”
Senior hitter Shersteen Cline pounded 21 kills to lead the way for the Orediggers, who played at home for the first time in almost a month.
“Being home definitely helps,” Cline said. “We have a crowd and we’re excited to play. Our families come to watch. I think we’re clicking, too. We’re getting used to each other. We’re improving on our serving and blocking. We’ve been working on some stuff to get where we are.”
A look at the game’s stat sheet shows a solid team effort. The key stat was the Orediggers held the Argonauts to a .035 hitting percentage.
Solomon attributed that to his team’s 14 blocks. Freshman Mikayla Sullivan, who tallied six kills, had a hand in six of those blocks.
“We’ve been working on blocking,” Solomon said. ” Great Falls hit .300 on us last time (in a 3-1 Tech loss last week in Great Falls). They really exposed some weak sports. For us to come us to come up with 14 blocks, that was a really big effort by everyone.”
Cline hit .375 on the night.
“Shersteen had a huge night,” Solomon said. “That was a massive effort. Mikayla Sullivan was exceptional. She made a huge difference for us on the net, slowing down what they were trying to do.”
Cline praised her teammates after the Orediggers improved to 2-6 in Frontier Conference play and 12-8 overall. Great Falls fell to 5-5 and 14-10.
“I think things finally just clicked,” the biology major from Big Sandy said. ” It was our time to win.”
Freshman Sydney Norris added 11 kills and 10 digs for the Orediggers.
Alison Lunde dished out 43 assists, while Kimmy Kavran (12) and Kirstin King (10) reached double figures in digs.
Kavran entered the night leading the nation in digs. She is also closing in on the Montana Tech single-season record.
“It looked like they were working really hard to hit to the perimeter of the court away from Kimmy,” Solomon said. “We just tried to stay with what we do. It put some more balls to Sydney and Kirstin, but we defended pretty well as a team. It really wasn’t about one person. It was a good team effort.”
The Orediggers will need another solid team effort Saturday when archrival Carroll College comes to town for a 7 p.m. match.
“That was a heck of an effort,” Solomon said. “They’ve been working very hard for quite a few weeks not to try to get back on top, and it paid off.”