UMW News BureauA young University of Montana Western (UMW) volleyball team got off to a good start on the 2011 season by earning a split in matches against the University of Rio Grande and Viterbo University at the University of Great Falls/Carroll College Holiday Inn Tournament. By Lowell Peterson A young University of Montana Western (UMW) volleyball team got off to a good start on the 2011 season by earning a split in matches against the University of Rio Grande and Viterbo University at the University of Great Falls/Carroll College Holiday Inn Tournament. The Bulldogs defeated Rio Grande in the tournament opener three games to two at the Carroll College P.E. Center, giving first-year coach Lisa Griffiths a victory in her first match as a college head coach. The game was played at 3 p.m. with Montana Western holding on for the win in a tough five-game match. The Bulldogs got off to a good start in the opening game leading 7-2 before the Red Raiders made a run that put them ahead for good. Montana Western rallied from a 22-17 deficit to get to within one point on three different occasions before losing 25-23. The second game of the match was a tight contest that the Bulldogs won 26-24. Montana Western dominated and never trailed in game three, winning 25-14. Rio Grande fought back and controlled game four, winning 25-17 to tie things up at two games apiece. The Red Raiders took early control of game five and at the halfway point had a seemingly comfortable 8-3 lead. Montana Western showed their determination and tenacity by rallying to tie the game at 11-11. A kill shot by Ariel Johnson scored the final point and the Bulldogs prevailed 15-13. Bailey Branson led the Bulldogs in kills with 10 and Kayla Schmid was close behind with eight kills and a team leading 24 digs. Paige Latimer was the assists leader with 28. Latimer and Jessica Brunett each had one service ace. Susanne Rehse was the leader in blocks with six, four unassisted and two assisted. Rio Grande was led in kills by Whitney Smith with 19. Smith and Lauren Raines each had 33 digs and Kayla Landaker was tops in assists with 34. Smith also had three service aces and Erin Sherman was the leader in blocks with seven, six unassisted and one assisted. The second match at 5 p.m. against Viterbo University matched a Montana Western team that had just finished a tough five-game battle against a fresh Hawks team. In addition to being rested, Viterbo came into the tournament ranked 26th in the pre-season NAIA volleyball poll. The Hawks proved to be a tall, athletic, talented, deep and very well-coached team. Viterbo went on to sweep Montana Western in three games by scores of 25-11, 25-19 and 26-24. The final game was a battle from start to finish and again displayed the Bulldogs determination in spite of playing their eighth game in a three-hour time frame. Against Viterbo, Susan Rehse was the leader in kills with eight. Kayla Schmid had 17 digs and Michaela Jeffs and Paige Latimer had 11 and 10 assists respectively. Jeffs also had the Bulldogs lone service ace. Viterbo was led in kills by Katie Flock (16) and Amy Braaksma (15). Jordan Blaken led the Hawks with 15 digs and three service aces. Stacie Hoffman recorded an impressive 41 assists. Montana Western is now 1-1 on the season. The Bulldogs travel to Great Falls, Mont. on Friday, Aug. 19 for a 1 p.m. non-conference match against the University of Great Falls on the second day of the tournament.