Montana falls to Idaho in four sets
Aug. 25, 2012
The Montana volleyball team dropped its second straight match to open the season Saturday afternoon, falling to the host Vandals in four sets at the Idaho Nike Invitational at Moscow, Idaho. The Grizzlies went to extra points to win the opener, 30-28, then dropped the next three, 25-16, 25-18, 25-13.
Montana will face Pacific Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (MT) in the Grizzlies' final match of the tournament. The Tigers rallied from a two-set deficit to defeat Idaho Friday night, 3-2, then beat Washington State in three quick sets Saturday morning.
For the second consecutive match, Montana hit less than .100 while allowing its opponent to hit better than .200, a formula that leads to a loss in 99 out of 100 matches. On top of that, Idaho had 11 service aces to one for the Grizzlies.
Through two matches Montana is hitting .071 to its opponents' .228, and the Grizzlies have given up 15 service aces while only producing two themselves.
"We're not collectively doing enough things well right now. We're playing hard, but we're making errors like we don't know one another," UM coach Jerry Wagner said. "That should not be the case with a team that has the type of experience we have."
Montana had a nice comeback to take the opening set, the only thing that kept it from being a 3-0 victory for Idaho.
The Vandals held a 21-14 lead before the Grizzlies stormed back, ultimately tying it at 24. Senior Paige Branstiter had three kills in the rally, her third making it 24-23. Juniors Brooke Bray and Kortney James then teamed up to block Idaho's Allison Walker for the set's first deadlock since it was 8-8.
Down 28-27, Montana forced three straight Idaho attack errors to win its first set of 2012. The decisive point came when sophomore Kelsey Schile and redshirt freshman Capri Richardson blocked Katelyn Peterson.
The win came after fighting off four set-point opportunities for the Vandals.
Junior Kayla Reno put the Grizzlies up 3-1 in the second set with one of her team-high 12 kills, but Idaho reeled off five straight points and would not trail again the rest of the match. The Vandals jumped out to leads of 9-2 in the third set and 7-2 in the fourth.
"We're not responding well right now when things don't go our way, and because of it we're getting behind early and giving up runs," Wagner said. "We're still trying to find the answer."
Part of Montana's struggles is coming from the predictability of its offense. Reno finished with 12 kills and Branstiter 11, but the two left-side hitters were set a disproportionate 103 times, resulting in a .019 hitting percentage.
The middles were set just 34 times, and Bray was effective with her opportunities. She had eight kills and just one error to hit a team-high .280. She also added four blocks, a total Richardson matched.
Montana both dug and blocked with Idaho. Reno had 20 digs, while junior Megan Murphey added 18. Schile finished with 9 digs, 6 kills, 3 assists and 2 blocks. James had 33 assists, 11 digs and 3 blocks.
Walker led Idaho, which hit .220, with 24 kills on .315 hitting.
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