Griz fall to Cougars in straight sets to open season
Aug. 24, 2012
The Montana volleyball team dropped its season opener in straight sets to Washington State Friday afternoon in the first match of the Idaho Nike Invitational at Moscow, Idaho. The Grizzlies were limited to .057 hitting in the 25-23, 25-12, 25-19 loss.
Montana will face Idaho Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (MT) and Pacific at 5:30 p.m. (MT).
"We did some things well tonight, but not for long enough stretches," UM coach Jerry Wagner said in an attempt to encapsulate his team's loss.
Jaicee Harris had 13 kills on .257 hitting and Rachel Todorovich finished with 11 kills on .320 hitting to lead the Cougars. The pair also combined for 19 digs and four blocks.
Senior outside hitter Paige Branstiter led Montana with eight kills, but she also had nine attack errors to hit -.037 for the match.
The back-and-forth opening set had five ties and three lead changes. Montana was within one four times late in the match, including 22-21 and 24-23, but after a timeout the Cougars went to Harris, and she ended the set with a kill.
The Grizzlies were within range of going up a set despite hitting only .125.
"We didn't play all that well in the first set, but we battled," Wagner said. "It seemed like everything was in place for us going forward."
It wasn't. Washington State jumped off to a 9-4 lead in the second set, and Montana was never in it. The Grizzlies hit -.111, with just five kills and eight errors in 27 swings. WSU hit .444 and sided out on 12 of 13 opportunities (.923).
After the break Montana took advantage of four early Washington State attack errors to go up 7-1 in the third set. The Grizzlies still led 14-11 until a six-point run for the Cougars gave them the advantage.
Down 17-14, Montana would get no closer than two points the rest of the set.
"We just gave up too many large runs in the second and third sets, and we can't do that," Wagner said. "Hopefully it was because of uncharacteristic reasons.
"We've got a couple of more chances tomorrow to move in the direction we want to go."
Junior setter Kortney James finished with 19 assists and had four kills in five attacks. James set her favorite target, junior outside hitter Kayla Reno, 30 times, but Reno had just five kills to go along with 10 digs.
Junior Megan Murphey led Montana with 11 digs.
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