Western volleyball team excited for home opener

DILLON — The University of Montana Western volleyball team will play their first home game of the 2015 season on Thursday at 7 p.m., as they take on the visiting University of Great Falls Argonauts (13-5, 0-1).

The Bulldogs (4-8, 0-1) finally get to play at home after traveling more than 4,000 miles during the first month of the season. They traveled to La Grande, Oregon., Lewiston, Idaho, Hastings, Nebraska, and Helena to open the season.

“The girls are so excited to play at home in front of our home fans,” stated fifth-year head coach Lisa Griffiths, “the road has definitely tested us and prepared us for the competitive nature of the Frontier Conference, but we are going to make the most of our opportunity to play at home.”

Despite their record, the young Bulldogs competed with some of the top competition in the NAIA, including No. 4 Midland University (Neb.), No. 7 Eastern Oregon, No. 18 Concordia (Neb.) and No. 23 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.).

“The preseason schedule was tough, but so is every night in the Frontier,” said Griffiths.

The experience is great for a young squad who is preparing for the gauntlet that is the Frontier Conference, which currently has two top-25 squads and two others who are receiving significant votes in the national polls.

“We have such a young group, it was important to get them up to speed and make sure they know what it is like every night in this conference,” said Griffiths about the Frontier. “Our preseason scheduled definitely did that.”

Montana Western has eight underclassmen who have seen significant playing time this season, four freshmen and four sophomores, and a junior college transfer at setter. Despite the new players for the Bulldogs, juniors Bailey Wilson, Jami Flink and Brittany Erickson are making large impacts for the team, to go along with lone Bulldog senior Mikayla Ness.

Freshman hitter Cady Siemion from Huntley has been a force at the net, recording 88 kills and 2.15 kills/set to lead the Bulldogs. Siemion has also recorded 127 digs on the season, which ranks second on the team.

Dylan Fowler, a freshman libero from Belgrade, leads the team’s floor defense with 207 digs, 4.81 digs/set.

Junior setter Callie Hanson, a transfer from Columbia Basin College, leads the Bulldogs with 397 assists and 10 service aces. Hanson, who also has 106 digs on the season has split time at the setter position with freshman Sierra Cahill from Trabuco Canyon, California, Cahill has added 275 assists and 63 digs.

The front row has been steady, led by sophomores Joanna Avery and Tessa Miller. Avery has tallied seven solo blocks and 22 block assists to go with Miller’s four solo blocks and team-high 29 block assists.

Junior captain Bailey Wilson from Burley, Idaho, has been an all-around player for the Bulldogs in 2015. In her third-year as a starter, Wilson has recorded 78 kills, 58 digs, one solo block and 14 block assists.

Montana Western will look to get back on track after dropping three of their last four matches, including their conference opener against Carroll College last Friday.

The Bulldogs split with Great Falls last season, each team winning on the others home court.

For live video streaming of the game, visit http://www.livestream.com/westernbulldogs.

— Montana Western Sports Information

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