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Montana volleyball falls to Idaho in rematch

Montana volleyball falls to Idaho in rematch

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A night after Montana earned a five-set victory over Idaho, the Vandals responded to win the rematch, beating the Griz in four sets (25-10, 21-25, 25-18, 25-16).

In Montana's second-set victory, the Griz held Idaho to .095 hitting, but in Idaho's three set wins, the Vandals hit a combined .429. They hit .323 one day the Griz held them to a .083 clip.

"Idaho did a nice job on serve-receive and was able to use its middles a lot more," UM coach Allison Lawrence said. "They passed well enough where their middles could hold ours, and they could set away from the middles in moments, which gave their pins a one-on-one look against a single block. Last night they didn't always terminate in those situations, and tonight they did."

UM had three players in double figures for kills, led by sophomore outside hitter Amethyst Harper's 13 kills on .257 hitting. Harper added 11 digs, recording a double-double for the third time in the past four matches. In the second set victory, she tallied six kills at a .400 clip.

Senior middle blocker Peyten Boutwell was strong in the second set, totaling four of her 10 kills, and doing so without an error. She finished the match with a team-best five blocks. Freshman outside hitter Sophia Meyers was in double figures for kills for the fourth consecutive match, totaling 10.

However, the Griz made too many errors, finishing the night with 29 attack errors as Idaho, which ranks 15th nationally for blocking, totaled 17 stuffs.

"We weren't able to slow down an efficient offense and what was working for them, and on offense, we had a very high-error night," Lawrence said. "That combination of things is pretty stressful to try and work out of."

Montana was no match for Idaho early on, as the Big Sky Conference's top blocking team had three blocks as it jumped out to a 6-1 lead. The Griz were out of sync throughout the set, making 11 attack errors and 12 total, which accounted for nearly half of Idaho's point total.

The Griz showed an ability to bounce back in the second set as they jumped out to an early lead. They put their early offensive struggles behind them, recording 10 kills on their first 16 swings, without an error, as Montana led 14-7. Idaho got within a point at 16-15, but UM scored the next five points, getting a kill and two blocks from Boutwell. Montana out-blocked Idaho in the set and hit .237 compared to .095 for the Vandals.

"I thought we did a nice job of gathering ourselves after a slow, frazzled start, and we got back to who we are," Lawrence said. "I like that they were able to take a breath, take a minute and find their aggression again.

Lawrence credited the strong second set to Montana's passing, which set up strong opportunities for its attackers.

"When you control the first contact, you can swing so freely and you are free to be aggressive in ways that allow you to be super physical."

Montana held a 2-1 lead to begin the third set, but Idaho took control by winning the next seven points. The Griz got within three points on five occasions but never got closer, as Idaho was able to force a sideout each time. Idaho scored the first three points of the fourth set and never trailed, winning 25-16.

While the Griz were disappointed by Monday's loss, they showed growth on the week. Their victory on Sunday helped give the team momentum going into the final two weeks of the regular season, beating an Idaho team that has finished .500 or better in conference in 17 consecutive seasons.

"We talked in the locker room about how tonight's disappointment does not change or overshadow the breakthrough we had last night," Lawrence said. "Once again, the part that frustrates me is our potential to be consistent and physical, but the pride and belief comes from the fact that when we do it, we're a good team.

"The next step, and ultimate goal, is to put a whole weekend together."


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