By Bill Foley
The Orediggers are starting to put it all together.
Montana Tech made short work of MSU-Northern Saturday night for a convincing three-set Frontier Conference volleyball victory at the HPER Complex.
With a large group of East Middle School players cheering them on, the No. 19 Orediggers 25-16, 25-15, 25-19. (Stats)
“We’ve got a lot of things ironed out, and we’re looking a lot better,” Tech senior Karina Mickelson said.
The victory comes three weeks after the Orediggers fell in five sets to the Skylights in the Frontier Conference Preview tournament in Havre.
Tech coach Brian Solomon said his team has improved quite a bit since that loss. In the three weeks since, the Orediggers (15-5 overall) went 3-2 in their first trip through the Frontier Conference.
“It was good to see us hit a little better rhythm tonight,” Solomon said. “Our defense really had some bright moments, and offensively we just had better rhythm. We’ve been working on that.”
While Tech did not allow the Skylights to reach 20 points in either set, Northern was competitive in each. Mickelson said the win was anything but easy.
“Nothing is really easy right now,” she said. “All the teams in our conference are playing really well.”
Mickelson and Maureen Jessop each tallied 14 kills for the Orediggers, who beat the Skylights 43-29 in that category. Tech hit .239 as a team, and McKenna Kaelber, the two-time reigning Frontier Conference Setter of the Week, set 33 assists.
Tech got six kills from Taylor Henley, five from Olivia Muir and two apiece from Kaelber and Sydney Parks. Sarah Hopcroft’s 15 digs led the Oredigger backcourt. Logan Reed and Mickelson each dug up seven.
Jessopp and Emma McMillan each served a pair of aces.
Rylee Burmester’s 10 kills led the Northern attack. Emily Feller set 26 assists, and Shania Neubauer collected 13 digs. Burmester added 12 digs for the Skylights, who fell to 11-11 and 1-4.
“Northern is much improved now, too,” Solomon said. “There were some stretches that they played pretty well, and I’m happy that we kept our heads above water until we found some success.”
Tech will make one more trip through the Frontier Conference, starting with an Oct. 22 match at the University of Providence in Great Falls.
First, the Orediggers will head to Des Moines, Iowa, for a non-conferene tournament next Friday and Saturday.