Tech spills Grand View in volleyball clash

By Bruce Sayler

Fourteenth-ranked teams don’t receive many chances to pull upsets in the regular sports seasons. Montana Tech did Saturday night and cashed in the opportunity by knocking off No. 10 Grand View 25-13, 24-26, 26-24, 17-25, 15-11 in the last match of the two-day Big Sky Volleyball Challenge tournament.Stats

“That was a tough match,” stressed Brian Solomon, head coach of the Orediggers, as he watched smiling Montana Tech players celebrate a little in the Butte Civic Center after the major win. “(The Vikings) are a very, very good team with some very good players who were hard for us to contain for long periods of time.”

Montana Tech ended the match on a four-point run. Tori Chelini faked a set and dumped a shot over the net instead to tie the score at 12-all in the fifth set and claim the side-out for the Orediggers. They didn’t give up the serve.

Gena McMillen stepped to the line and the Vikings had trouble handling the first serve in the run with Kelsey Redmond finally hitting a shot wide of the court boundaries. So, Montana Tech had a point lead. Next, Haley Druyvestein, the head of the Orediggers’ block party, led a block play at the net and Montana Tech led 14-12 at match point.

Angela Molesworth nailed the game-winner off a Chelini set for a kill on the side.

Solomon said his team’s hitting success was a large part of the victory.

“Masha (Korol) hit very well, and all of our hitters hit very well,” he said. “(The Vikings) had some success containing us in the middle, where we’d gotten points earlier in the tournament.”

Both teams adjusted frequently and well, with a lot of changing taking place between sets.

“Some of the sets were lopsided, but that’ll happen, I think, if you struggle for a couple minutes against a really good team,” Solomon said. “Most of our adjustments were about getting back to our keys for how we wanted to attack them.”

The Orediggers stormed out to cruise to the win in the first game. They had a 13-6 lead after a Heather Thompson block. The gap grew to 21-12 on a McMillen kill and reached game point at 24-13 on another McMillen kill, this one set by Kamaile Moody. Meagan Miller of Grand View hit long on the next play and the set ended.

The Vikings shook the cobwebs late in the second game and caught the Orediggers at 20-all on a Redmond tilp. They hit game point first on another Redmond kill for a 24-23 edge. Druyvestein drilled a kill to re-knot the score at 24-all before her another block attempt by her landed wide of the court. The Vikings led 24-23. Nicole Peacock of Montana then pushed a placement try too far and it sailed out of bounds.

So, the third set arrived with each team having won one.

“Our blocking was there most of the game,” Solomon said. “We were fortunate. Sometimes, you wind up on the right side of things.”

The visitors from Des Moines, Iowa, found themselves on the wrong side of the officials in the third game. The Vikings received a warning card early in the game over a debate about a call. They led most of the way in what was a tight set. Grand View had game point at 24-22 after a Peacock missile landed beyond its target.

Peacock pounded a kill on her next try and returned serve to Montana Tech. Redmond hit long after the Chelini serve and the score was tied 24-all. Grand Valley then bobbled a Peacock tip and it fell to the floor. The Viking coaches had a different view on the outcome of the play that had allowed Montana Tech to take a 25-24 edge.

The argument ended with a red card pulled against the Grand View bench, scoring the accompanying penalty point for Montana Tech that ended the set in the Orediggers’ favor and brought on the fourth game.

The Vikings took out their frustrations in the next game. They owned an 18-11 command after a block by Trystin Luneckas and expanded it to nine points, 23-14, on a Luneckas ace. A Molesworth kill attempt later tangled in the net and brought on set point for Grand View at 24-17. Redmond killed the next point to force the tiebreaker.

Molesworth finished with 15 kills for Montana Tech, which went 3-1 in the tournament and stands at 6-2 for the season. Korol and McMillen notched 13 kills apiece. The setters combined for 54 assists — 30 by Moody and 24 by Chelini. McMillen and Chelini each served two aces, libero Sabrina Hopcroft came up with 15 digs and Thompson and Druyvestein each were in on five blocks. The team posted 11 blocks with one by Korol being a solo.

Grand View leaders were Redmond with 23 kills and Erin Wenzel with 12, Luneckas with 44 assists, Redmond with two aces, Miller with 11 digs and Courtney Twit with nine blocks, two of which were solos.

“I got a lot of positive feedback about the tournament,” Solomon. “It was all positive about the schools, the facility and the hospitality, about how everybody was so nice to them in Butte.”

The 17-team college tourney was being held at the Civic Center for the second straight year, and was played this year on newly bought sports courts Butte-Silver Bow acquired for the facility.

Montana Tech is scheduled to play in a tournament at Bellevue, Nebraska, next weekend with matches against MidAmerica Nazarene and Morningside on Friday, and Baker and Dordt on Saturday.