Griz struggle to close, fall in three at UND

Kayla Reno

Kayla Reno

Sept. 15, 2012

Box Score

The Montana volleyball team dropped to 0-2 in Big Sky Conference play with a 26-24, 25-15, 26-24 loss at North Dakota Saturday night at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks, N.D. The Grizzlies held late leads in the first and third sets but were unable to close either out in victory.

Montana fell to 2-9 overall, while UND (5-7, 1-1 BSC) won its first volleyball match as a Big Sky Conference member.

Not finishing winnable sets will be the storyline from a road trip that opened Thursday with a 3-1 loss at Northern Colorado.

After splitting the first two sets against the Big Sky-favorite Bears Thursday, Montana held a 19-15 lead in the critical third set. UNC was able to rally, and the Bears closed out the victory in four.

The Grizzlies held 19-16 and 22-20 leads in the opening set against North Dakota Saturday, and a 17-13 lead in the third. Again, no victories followed.

"We're putting ourselves in position to do something special in these matches, but it just does not seem to be our time yet," UM coach Jerry Wagner said. "We'll get back to work Monday and try to become a team that closes.

"When we figure out how to finish teams off when we get to a certain point, I think you're going to see this team get on a roll."

Montana got 10 kills from junior Kayla Reno and sophomore Kelsey Schile and seven more from senior Paige Branstiter and junior Brooke Bray, but the Grizzlies did not have their Ronni Munkeby.

The UND junior middle blocker finished the match with 15 kills and just one error on .483 hitting. More important, she had three kills late in North Dakota's first-set rally and two more to help close out set three.



No rally was needed in the second set. UND jumped out to a 10-3 lead, and Montana hit -.069.

Schile, who was playing five hours from her Apple Valley, Minn., home, had one of her best stat lines of the season. Her 10 kills came on .240 hitting, and she added six assists, three blocks and a pair of service aces.

Junior Kortney James had 27 assists, 7 digs and 2 blocks. Junior libero Megan Murphey finished with a match-high 16 digs.

Montana both out-blocked and out-dug North Dakota, but the match swung on offense. UND totaled five more kills than the Grizzlies, and they were the turning points in a match that had 10 ties and five lead changes in the first set and 15 ties and seven lead changes in the third.

Montana will seek to win its first league match of the season next weekend when the Grizzlies host Portland State and Eastern Washington at the West Auxiliary Gym.

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