BUTTE – Rocky Mountain College outside hitter Daniella Russell couldn’t bear to watch as her kill attempt sailed past the end line during the closing moments of the fourth set in Saturday’s match at Montana Tech.
Moments later, the entire Rocky Mountain volleyball team had to open their eyes to the fact that they were no longer unbeaten in the Frontier Conference.
Montana Tech got had four players reach double-figures in kills and Hannah Liss provided strong serving down the stretch, lifting the Orediggers to a 23-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-23 win over the Battlin’ Bears at the HPER Complex on Saturday night.
It took some effort but the Montana Tech volleyball team can stand tall and alone as the last unbeaten team in the Frontier Conference.
The Orediggers didn’t play their best match of the season but came up big when it counted, handing the Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears a 23-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-23 defeat Saturday night at the HPER Complex.
Both teams brought 3-0 conference records into the contest and arrived riding three-match winning streaks but Montana Tech dug deep within itself to come away with the win.
Angela Molesworth led the charge with an 18-kill performance. She was but one facet on an Oredigger team that recorded 65 kills to the Bears’ 37.
Masha Korol added 12 kills for the ‘Diggers but head coach Brian Solomon was especially pleased with the production of his middle blockers.
Heather Thompson had 12 kills and Haley Dryvstein added 11 from that position.
“It was probably a career-high for her (Thompson) on kills, and Haley started off the match hitting really well,” Solomon said Solomon said after sharing a celebratory daddy-daughter moment at midcourt with his youngest child, Khloe. “Both middles combined for 23 kills and that’s probably the high for us this season. I thought we did a good job in finding them.”
Solomon knew that his team would have to turn up the defensive pressure against the Battlin’ Bears and Sabrina Hopcroft led in that department. She recorded 31 digs in what turned out to be an 86-dig performance for Tech.
The Orediggers came within a whisker or two of a sweep. The led through most of the opening set, only to see the Bears tie the score at 20 on a kill by Olivia L’AmI.
The score was tied at 23 before Rocky scored the set’s final two points.
The Orediggers didn’t seem to be bothered by the loss and jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the second. Rocky made a run of its own but it didn’t last long. Molesworth recorded a kill to tie the score at 13-all, then added another one to give the Orediggers the lead for good. The ‘Diggers’ lead never exceeded two points from that point on but that was perfect for the 25-23 win.
If a statement was to be made during the set, Tech made it in the third set.
The Orediggers led, 12-3, before the Bears made an attempt to get back into contention. It didn’t matter. Tech rolled to an 11-point win and closed out the match one set later.
“We really needed our middles to play well and they were tremendous,” Solomon. “We had 10 blocks. I thought our blocking was much, much better.”
Rocky Mountain has been one of the top teams in the conference for several years and was focused on coming to Butte and stealing a win but they had just one player – Daniella Russell – reach double-figures in kills. She finished with 10. Sydney Matheny was next with nine.
The Bears finished the night with at an 8.3 percent success rate on kills.