BUTTE – The Montana Tech volleyball team had little trouble in improving to 3-0 in Frontier Conference action, Thursday night at the HPER Complex.
Masha Korol had 15 kills, Angela Molesworth added 11 and the Orediggers made good on 41 percent of their kill attempts on their way to a 25-17, 25-20, 25-16 victory over the Bulldogs.
The Orediggers finished the match with 51 kills, compared to 31 for the Bulldogs.
“Everyone hit really well,” Tech coach Brian Solomon said of his 17th-ranked squad. “Nicole (Peacock) hit really efficient (at 53.3 percent). I thought we took good swings throughout.”
The other side of the net saw Montana Western finish the match with a 25.3-percent success rate on its kill attempts.
Kyra Palmer led the Bulldogs, who slipped to 1-2 in conference play after building an 8-5 record during the preseason.
“Tech’s a good team,” said Montana Western’s second-year coach Brent Lewis, who found it easier to talk about the Orediggers than his own team after the loss. “They have a lot of big people and they hit really hard.
“Sometimes you dig, sometimes you don’t.”
So how dominant were the Orediggers in their latest win?
Western held a 3-2 lead in the opening set and didn’t lead again until picking up the first point in the third set.
Tech setters Tori Chelini and Kamaile Moody finished with 20 and 19 assists, respectively. It seemed as if the toughest part of their jobs on Thursday was simply deciding on which hitter to get the ball to.
While Korol and Molesworth were essentially unstoppable, Peacock and Haley Druyvestein were also strong. Peacock finished with nine kills, and Druyvestein was 6 for 6 on her kill attempts.
The Bulldogs came to life in the final set, matching the Orediggers point-for-point for a good portion. The teams traded leads during the early part of the set and Western took a 7-6 lead on a kill by Tessa Miller. Miller followed with block that gave the Bulldogs a two-point lead.
Western still led by two points (10-8) when the Orediggers staged their match-ending run.
Molesworth netted a pair of kills to tie the score at 10, and Chelini came up with one of her two service aces to put the Orediggers in front for good.
Tech proceeded to score 14 of the next 20 points to make it an early night.
Western got a team-high 10 kills from Palmer, with McKenna Fink providing 29 of the team’s 30 assists.
As easy as things looked for the Orediggers, they were far from perfect through the eyes of Solomon.
“There is a lot on defense that we did not do well,” he said. “They (Western) run a really fast offense and I just don’t think we saw the right things well enough. A lot got by us and a few of their players hit really, really well so there are some things that we need to address probably.
“We outhit our defensive liabilities.”
Tech has one day to shore up things on that side of the ball. Rocky Mountain College will be in town on Saturday night in an attempt to ruin Montana Tech’s Hall of Fame weekend.
Rocky Mountain is consistently one of the better teams in the conference and will likely give Tech its toughest test of the season.
“They defend really well and they won’t make any errors so our defense has to be on point,” Solomon said of his team’s next opponent. “They’re one of the best defensive teams in the conference every year so it puts a little bit of a different slant in the game for us. Balls that would normally go down come back and they come back with some very good swings.
“We’re going to have to win some long rallies. We’re going to have to battle in our transition game, probably more than we did (Thursday).”