UMW News BureauAfter winning the first two sets it looked like the Montana Tech Orediggers were on their way to their first conference win of the season. Then the University of Montana Western Bulldogs caught fire and rallied to win the next three sets and defeat Montana Tech 21-25, 20-25, 25-18, 25-15, 15-9. By Lowell Peterson [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Susanne Rehse."][/caption] After winning the first two sets it looked like the Montana Tech Orediggers were on their way to their first conference win of the season. Then the University of Montana Western Bulldogs caught fire and rallied to win the next three sets and defeat Montana Tech 21-25, 20-25, 25-18, 25-15, 15-9. In the first two sets both teams struggled with their attacking at the net and had low attack percentages. The Orediggers registered 22 kills and 20 attack errors and the Bulldogs had just 16 kills and 17 attack errors. Both teams settled down in sets three and four but Montana Western grabbed the momentum and never let up. Tech had 22 kills and 12 errors but the Bulldogs registered 32 kills with only four attack errors to even things up at two games apiece. In the fifth set, Montana Western jumped out to an 8-3 lead at the halfway point and held on to take the set and match three games to two. “Unforced errors were the difference in the match for us,” Bulldogs head coach Lisa Griffiths said. “During games one and two we just gave away too many points. There is no way we can expect to compete if we make that many errors. The team got back to our style of play and really made a change in game three.” It was senior night at Montana Western and Kayla Schmid and Susanne Rehse were honored for their leadership, effort and team contributions over the past four seasons. Both players finished the regular season in fine fashion. Rehse led the team in kills with 13 and Shmid was right behind her with 12. Rehse was also involved in three blocks and had three service aces. Schmid had 14 digs, second only to Shelby Mack’s 15, and Paige Latimer had an impressive 46 assists. “I couldn't be happier for our seniors tonight,” Griffiths said. “They have set amazing examples for their teammates all season and then led the charge in game three to get the team back in the match.” The crowd came alive when the Bulldogs rallied in the third set and continued to give the Bulldogs energy in the fourth and fifth sets. The two seniors led the charge and ended their last match on their home court in style. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="204" caption="Kayla Schmid."][/caption] “It was great to see the seniors have a great last night in front of their home fans," Griffiths added. “They deserved to have a special night and I'm glad they came away with the win.” Shersteen Cline led the Orediggers with a match-high 17 kills and Emily Lobnitz added 10. Allyse Cruise led the team with 20 digs and three service aces. Michelle Hardy (18) and Kiara Ross (17) combined for 35 assists. Both teams entered the final match of the regular season with losing streaks. Montana Western had lost six in a row and Tech had lost 13 straight matches. The Bulldogs finished the season at 7-18 overall and 2-12 in conference play. Both conference victories came against the Oredidggers. Montana Tech finished with a 7-20 overall record and ended conference play without a victory at 0-14. The young Bulldog team started their season with a win and finished out the regular season with a win. They had some ups and downs in between, but steadily showed improvement in the strong Frontier Conference. The Bulldogs will return a strong group of players next season and coach Griffiths had good things to say about the performance of one of her freshman in particular. “Emily Erickson came alive for us tonight and had the type of sustained performance we see every week in practice,” Griffiths added. “We have seen flashes of play like this all season but tonight, from start to finish, she was a dominating force.” Although the regular season is over, both teams will prepare for the Frontier Conference tournament held at Carroll College in Helena, Mont. on Nov. 11 and 12.
The University of Montana Western has launched a national search for the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs position.