Peaking at right time, Orediggers head to tourney

Peaking at right time, Orediggers head to tourney
Montana Tech players celebrate a point during last week's Senior Night win over the University of Great Falls. (Bill Foley photo)

The Frontier Conference tournament might be coming at the right time for the Montana Tech volleyball team.

The No. 25-ranked Orediggers, winners of three straight and 11 out of 12 matches, will take on Lewis-Clark State College in a 5 p.m. first-round match Friday at the McLaughlin Center in Great Falls.

Tech needs three wins to win the tournament and secure the league’s automatic berth in the NAIA National Tournament.

In other first-round games, the University of Great Falls (13-13, 6-6) will battle MSU-Northern (6-15, 5-7) at 2 p.m., while Rocky Mountain College (13-16, 7-5) will take on Montana Western (11-15, 4-8) at 7 p.m.

Regular-season champion No. 18 Carroll College (21-6, 9-3) receives a first-round bye.

The Orediggers are the 20-8 overall after finishing the Frontier Conference with an 8-4 mark. The Warriors (8-14, 3-9) are the No. 7 seven seed.

Kennadie Clute, a 6-foot-1 outside hitter, leads the Warrior attack with 3.71 kills per match. Stephanie Ovitz, a 5-11 middle blocker, adds 2.43 kills per game, while 6-foot hitter Rachel Gregg averages 2.13 kills.

Seniors Jordan Danz (2.86 kills per game) and Bailie Cortner (2.79) and junior Nicole Peackok (2.3), sophomore Katie Wiley (1.97) and freshman Gena McMillan (2.37) lead the Oredigger offensive.

Corter also leads the league with 1.1 blocks per game, while fellow senior Makenzie Bauck is tops in the Frontier with 10.6 assists per game.

Freshman libero Sabrina Hopcroft leads the Oredigger back court with 3.56 digs per game.

The Orediggers and Warriors split two matches in the regular season, with each team winning in three sets on their home court.

Tech’s impressive late-season run includes six victories by sweep and a five-set win at Carroll College. That win in Helena saw the Orediggers battle back from an 0-2 hole.

Tech’s lone blemish in the last six weeks is a five-set home loss to Rocky.

Carroll will play the lowest remaining seed in an 11 a.m. semifinal Saturday. The other semifinal will begin at 1 p.m.

The championship match is set for Saturday at 7 p.m.

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