By Bruce Sayler
Carroll collected on delivery Wednesday night as the Saints outplayed Montana Tech for a 25-20, 25-22, 23-25, 25-22 Frontier Conference volleyball win in the Montana Tech HPER Complex.
The match opened the conference season for both teams and was the Orediggers’ first this year on their own court. Carroll came into the match ranked 16th in the NAIA poll while Montana Tech is ranked 22nd.
The Saints didn’t play a flawless match Wednesday night, but they made Montana Tech’s miscues larger with a stronger ability to capitalize. The Orediggers struggled some with serve-receive and both ways on the block. Carroll’s tall front kept a lot of Oredigger hits on the Montana Tech side of the net. Conversely, the Orediggers didn’t so often stop the Saints in the same manner.
“Mostly, it was a lot of unforced errors,” Montana Tech head coach Brian Solomon said. “Some of the things were things we’ve been working on trying to control. We didn’t do a good job of it tonight.
“A couple of the sets we lost were really close. We gave them 10, 11, 12 errors and they were not just in one area.”
The Montana Tech attack was pretty good with four hitters in double figures in kills. Jordan Danz led the way with 14, followed by Gena McMillan with 12, Nicole Peacock with 11 and Katie Wiley with 10. Bailie Cortner hammered eight. Wiley posted seven blocks.
Carroll hit about the same in percentage while getting 14 kills each from Holly Morehouse and Paige Montgomery. Six-foot-three Mallory Arbizzani notched 11. Brielle Bumgarner led the front line on defense with five blocks.
“I didn’t think we did a good enough job on defense of slowing them down,” Solomon said. “That was one of the areas — maybe we should have closed the blockers better.
“They forced us into some of our errors.They’re a good team, but we need to play a lot better.”
The Saints are coached by Butte native Maureen “Mo” (Tutty) Boyle.
Carroll’s blocks denied Montana Tech at the net during first-game play. The Saints broke an 11-all tie on a block by Morehouse and held the lead the rest of the set. The block was part of a six-point serving run by Jonni Dorr and Carroll kept the distance. A serving error brought set point at 24-19 before Montgomery put away the Carroll game win with a putaway kill.
Carroll ran out to a sizeable lead in the second set only to have to fight back an Oredigger rally. The Saints led 10-5 after a tip by Arbizzani. Catherine Sloan’s early serving run sent the Saints to the quick advantage. McMillan’s serving run for Montana Tech pulled the Orediggers to within 23-22 of the lead. Makenzie Bauck posted two blocks in the five-point run. Wiley’s kill narrowed the margin to a point before a serving error cost Montana Tech for set point. Morehouse mashed a kill for the game win and 2-0 Carroll match lead.
Montana Tech gained the lead for good in a fiercely contested third game when a Morehouse shot traveled long, putting the Orediggers up by 15-14. Montana Tech’s biggest lead in the set was four points, 21-17, after a kill by Peacock, tip by Wiley and a Carroll shot into the basket that hangs above center court. Danz drilled a kill for set point at 24-22. The Orediggers endured another Morehouse kill, then won the game on a kill by Danz.
Montana Tech wasn’t able to overtake Carroll in the fourth game. The Saints took the lead at 12-11 on a Morehouse block while rattling off seven straight points behind the serve of Dorr. The Orediggers rallied to within 23-19 on a Wiley tip. A long Montana Tech serve scored match point at 24-19 before a Peacock kill delayed the Carroll clincher. It came on a Montgomery kill.
Carroll went to 12-2 with the win while the Orediggers fell to 9-4. Dorr paced the Saints in assists with 48, Sloan served three aces and Ayla Carpenter led them in digs with 11.
Bauck had 49 assists, and Peacock aced two serves, and came up with 11 digs.
Montana Tech will play at Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston, Idaho, on Friday in another conference match.