UMW volleyball drops two over the weekend

UMW News Bureau

Carroll College handed the University of Montana Western volleyball team a loss in straight sets on Friday, Oct. 12. The following night, the Bulldogs dropped a hard-fought battle to the University of Great Falls.

"I am proud of the fight the girls showed this weekend against two really tough programs on the road,” head coach Lisa Griffiths stated. “It is disappointing to come away with losses in close sets, but I'm happy to see the progress the girls are making every week.”

Against the Carroll College Saints, three Bulldogs put up double-doubles: Paige Latimer with 11 digs and 39 assists, Bailey Branson with 19 digs and 10 kills and Emily Erickson with 12 digs and 11 kills.

Match-high honors went to Brea Mitchell with 12 kills, Shelby Mack with 26 digs and Latimer with 39 assists.

Although the Bulldogs looked good on the statistical sheet, the Saints were able to pull off a 25-20, 25-19, 28-26 sweep.

Carroll College was led by Rebecca Sweeney with 11 kills and 22 digs. Kathleen Mulligan contributed 11 kills while Catie Hanser and Madeline Laan each had 11 digs.

On Saturday, Montana Western started out with a 27-25 win, but the University of Great Falls took the next three sets, 25-21, 28-26, 25-20 to win the match.

Emily Erickson had her second double-double on the weekend with 14 kills (0.333) and 10 digs. Bailey Branson added 17 kills (0.317) and Brea Mitchell had 13 (0.348). Mitchell also contributed four blocks while Branson and Erickson had two apiece.

Breanne Kelley led the defense with 11 digs with Shelby Mack close behind at 10. Paige Latimer dished out 45 assists and picked up six digs.

The University of Great Falls was led by Kelsey Van Uden with 22 kills and 12 digs. Gabby Bienkowski added 15 kills and Jenna Prescott had 15 digs.

The match featured many great swings and was dominated by offense. The Great Falls Argos had a 0.279 hitting percentage with 63 kills, just over the Bulldogs’ 0.235 percentage and 54 kills.

Griffiths noted the improvement of the Bulldogs’ offense since last season. Montana Western is fourth (out of nine) in the conference in kills/set compared to seventh (out of eight) last year.

"Our offensive production has improved so much and that is improving our chances in close games," Griffiths said.

With five conference games to finish out their season (four at home) Montana Western still has a chance to move up in the standings. They have a 9-14, 4-7 record, which is only two wins out of third place in the conference.

Bailey Branson earned her third UMW player of the week honor after averaging 3.9 kills and 3.7 digs per set over the weekend. She is currently eighth in the conference in kills per set with 2.7.

"Bailey is playing great volleyball for us right now,” Griffiths stated. “I am really excited about her all-around game and relentless competitiveness. She's setting a great example for her younger teammates and her passion is inspiring to those who play with her."

Other Montana Western players ranked in the conference include: Shelby Mack, second in digs/set with 4.8; Paige Latimer, third in assists/set with 9.4; Brea Mitchell, third in hitting percentage at 0.286; and Charelle Minor, eighth in blocks/set with 0.8.

This week Montana Western will host Westminster College on Saturday, Oct. 20 for their only match of the week. Their previous meeting on Sept. 8 saw the Griffins sweep the Bulldogs 26-24, 25-16, 25-22. Westminster’s 13-8, 6-4 record is good for third place in the conference.

Join the Bulldogs at 5 p.m. for Pink Night to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Fans wearing pink to the match will receive free admission.