DILLON — The University of Montana Western has started battle in the Frontier Conference. Their first two outings were on the road on Thursday, Sept. 6 to Montana Tech and on Saturday, Sept. 8 to Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The Montana Tech/Montana Western rivalry lived up to its name. The Bulldogs showed up ready to play, winning the first set 25-22. In the second and third sets, Montana Tech took the lead early and held off strong comebacks by the Bulldogs, taking a 2-1 lead in the match with 26-24 and 25-23 wins. Montana Western did not give up, taking the fourth set 25-22 with a 0.269 hitting percentage. In the final set, the Orediggers held on for the 15-10 win.
The Bulldogs saw a great match from sophomore outside hitter Breanne Kelley, with 21 kills and 15 digs. Emily Erickson put up nine kills, four blocks, and 24 digs. Montana Western also saw Charelle Minor return from a shoulder injury with a solid match of six kills on a 0.353 percentage. Shelby Mack picked up 30 digs while Paige Latimer had 19 and dished 46 assists.
There were multiple career high marks set in the game; Mack, Erickson and Latimer in digs, Kelley in kills and Latimer also tied her personal best in assists.
“It was great to see the girls battle in our match against Montana Tech,” head coach Lisa Griffiths stated. “We came out strong and were able to run the middle effectively and got a great offensive performance out of Breanne Kelley. We need to be more consistent with our execution to win the tight matches, but I’m happy to see how far the team has come.”
On Saturday, Montana Western again put up a tough match but lost in straight sets to the Westminster Griffins, 24-26, 16-25, 22-25.
“Westminster is always a solid team and they definitely showed that in our match,” stated Griffiths.
Brea Mitchell and Emily Erickson led the Bulldog attack, with 10 and nine kills, respectively. Paige Latimer dished 32 assists and Mack picked up 16 digs.
“We had great moments and I was proud of how the team competed and won long rallies, but consistent execution is always the challenge,” Griffiths said. “Shelby Mack had a great match defensively but we need to string together great efforts from all players.”
This week, the Bulldogs travel to Lewiston, Idaho to take on Lewis-Clark State College. The Warriors have been a Frontier Conference powerhouse, winning four of the last five Conference Tournaments and all five regular season titles. With a 5-5 overall record and 2-0 conference, the Warriors will host the Bulldogs on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 3 p.m.
As the Bulldogs continue in conference play, they are looking to improve overall team performance and consistency.
“In order to beat the best teams you have to put together consistent performances throughout the match and eliminate the let ups,” Griffiths concluded.
— UM Western Sports Information