Digger Volleyball takes three at Big Sky Volleyball Challenge
By Macy Ricketts
The Montana Tech volleyball team improved to a 6-2 season record at the Big Sky Volleyball Challenge in Butte August 26 and 27. The Diggers opened up the tournament with a 3-0 sweep of No. 8-ranked Vanguard University from Costa Mesa, California, 25-15, 25-17, 25-15. Right-side hitter Nicole Peacock paced the Diggers with 11 kills, and freshman libero Sabrina Hopcroft lead the defense with 16 digs. Behind Peacock was middle blocker Katie Wiley and freshman outside hitter Gena McMillan, who each contributed nine kills. Jordan Danz and Bailiee Cortner contributed seven kills apiece. Setter Mackenzie Bauck finished with 10 digs and 34 assists, and Danz and Cortner each had three blocks.
Saturday morning, the Diggers lost their only match of the tournament to the College of Idaho Coyotes in a five-set nail biter, 25-18, 25-21, 23-25, 22-25, 12-15. The Diggers came out strong initially, winning the first two sets soundly. In the first set, a Wiley kill and Cortner stuff block set the stage for a strong showing by Tech. Although the ‘Yotes managed to stay in the match, another Cortner stuff block lead to a College of Idaho timeout at 18-14. Tech rolled through the set after that, losing only three more points en route to their 25-17 set victory.
In the second set of the match, the Diggers introduced some errors early. However, back-to-back aces by Angie Pancost iced the ‘Yotes into calling a timeout at 12-5. Throughout the remainder of the set, the Diggers struggled with communication errors and scrappy tips over the net by the College of Idaho. Tech prevailed, though, as an ace by Bauck closed out the set 25-21.
In the third set, kills by Danz put the Diggers ahead early 3-1. Digs by Pancost and subsequent kills by Wiley tied up the set 10-10. Throughout the set, however, Tech struggled to pass the ‘Yotes attacks. Aces by Hannah Liss late in the set brought the Diggers back to within two points at 22-24, but a solid attack by the College of Idaho closed out the set 22-25.
In the fourth set, the Diggers continued to struggle with strong attacks by the College of Idaho. However, strong hitting performances by Wiley and Pancost kept Tech in the game. Late in the set, several stuff blocks by Cortner lead to a College of Idaho timeout at 22-24, but the ‘Yotes ultimately won the set.
In the fifth and final set, Pancost and Danz traded off kills to pace the Digger offense, but ultimately the ‘Yotes strong offense and scrappy defense led to a 12-15 Digger loss.
The final match that Tech played that weekend was a five-set victory against Corban University, 25-12, 12-25, 25-22, 13-25, 15-13. McMillan paced the Diggers during the match with 18 kills. Danz and Cortner were not far behind, pitching in 14 and 12 kills, respectively. Bauck added 51 assists and 16 digs, and Hopcroft added 14 digs.
Strong performances by Cortner, Hopcroft and Bauck throughout the tournament led to the trio sweeping the Frontier Conference Player of the Week awards for the second week in a row. Cortner earned Frontier Conference Attacker of the Week honors, Hopcroft was awarded Defender of the Week, and Bauck won Setter of the Week.
The Diggers, who are competing in Bellevue, Nebraska September 1 through 3, return to action September 14 at home against conference foe Carroll College.