Western volleyball goes 1-3 against top competition

HASTINGS, Neb. — The University of Montana Western volleyball team took the road this past weekend as they played in the Five Points Bank Invitational in Hastings, Nebraska.

The Bulldogs faced some stiff competition in No. 4 Midland University, MidAmerica Nazarene and Concordia who are both receiving votes, as well as 9-2 Peru State.

The Bulldogs finished the weekend with one win and three losses. They took down Peru State in four sets, 15-25, 25-21, 25-22 and 25-21, to open the tournament. After their victory they dropped three straight matches against Concordia (0-3), MidAmerica Nazarene (1-3) and Midland University (0-3).

In their victory over Peru State, the Bulldogs started slow by dropping the first set, before winning three straight to win the tournament opener. In the win, the Bulldogs had a balanced offensive attack, Cady Siemion, Tessa Miller and Joanna Avery all tallied eight kills to add to Kyla Paulsen and Bailey Wilson’s 11 kills. Avery led the team with a .292 hitting percentage. Setter Callie Hanson paced the Bulldogs with 18 assists and added 19 digs and three service aces in the contest.

Defensively, the Bulldogs were as equally balanced, freshman libero Dylan Fowler again led the team with 21 digs, followed by Hanson’s 19, Siemion’s 17 and Brianna DeCock’s 16. Avery collected one solo block to add to her stellar play at the net. Fowler also tallied eight assists in the opener.

As a team the Bulldogs were able to overcome 27 hitting errors and five service errors by recording seven aces and out attacking the Bobcats from Peru State.

Following a four-hour break, the Bulldogs took to the floor again to face the Bulldogs of Concordia. This time Montana Western was unable to overcome 31 total errors in three sets and fell in straight sets, 16-25, 20-25, and 20-25.

Offensively, Montana Western was led by freshman Kelsey Irwin with seven kills and Hanson with 22 assists. Collectively they hit a .078 in the match, their lowest of the season.

Fowler again led the way on floor defense, tallying 25 digs. The net defense saw four players’ record blocks, Miller, Avery, Paulsen and Wilson.

Day 2 for the Bulldogs wasn’t any easier as they faced MidAmerica Nazarene in their first match of the day and fell 1-3, 21-25, 14-25, 25-23 and 25-15.

Paulsen led the Bulldogs with 11 kills in the match, followed by Miller’s 6. Hanson tallied 18 assists and Sierra Cahill added 10.

Fowler led Montana Western with 15 digs and a service ace in the match, Hanson and Cahill each recorded 10 digs.

In their final match of the Five Points Bank Invitational, Montana Western faced No. 4 Midland University. The Warriors swept the Bulldogs, 17-25, 16-25 and 20-25 in the match after having a team hitting percentage of .228 in comparison to the Bulldogs .040.

Avery led the Bulldogs with five kills and three blocks in the contest. Other notable performances came from Fowler (17 digs), Hanson and Cahill with 11 and 10 assists respectively.

The Bulldogs record dropped to 4-7 on the season.

All in all, the weekend was a great learning experience for the young Bulldogs, who were able to see some of the top competition from across the country as they head into conference play.

Montana Western returns the floor in Helena on Friday to face the Carroll College Fighting Saints at 7 p.m. in the first conference match of the season.

— Montana Western Sports Information

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