Brooke Bray led Montana with four blocks
Oct. 19, 2012
North Dakota hit .316 and displayed a well-rounded offense that Montana was unable to match Friday night as the Grizzlies saw their season-best two-match winning streak come to an end with a 25-17, 25-16, 25-23 loss to UND at the West Auxiliary Gym.
It was North Dakota's second three-set sweep of Montana this season and its third straight dating back to last season.
After beating Sacramento State last Friday and Montana State on Monday, Montana (5-15, 3-8 BSC) opened Friday evening with the hope of winning and creeping to within a game of fifth-place North Dakota (11-11, 6-5 BSC). The night ended just 82 minutes later with the question, What just happened?
"I'm extremely disappointed in my team that we did not come out of the gate and compete tonight after climbing back into (the tournament race)," UM coach Jerry Wagner said. "I wasn't expecting that kind of a start.
"North Dakota had a lot to do with it, but I don't think we're a three-set underdog to that team. They came in and did what they wanted to do, and to not match their effort is disappointing."
UND had four players finish with between nine and 11 kills, and its aggressive serving produced six aces and had Montana's serve reception off balance the entire match.
Junior Kayla Reno led the Grizzlies -- who finished with a respectable .213 hitting percentage, helped largely by a .393 effort in the third set -- with seven kills on .241 hitting, plus three blocks. Senior Paige Branstiter, hobbling on a bad ankle, came off the bench to put down five kills in two sets of work.
No one else had more than four kills. Junior Brooke Bray finished with a team-high four blocks.
North Dakota was most dominant in the opening set, hitting .438 and putting down 18 kills compared to Montana's eight. UND cooled off in the second set but picked up its defensive effort, limiting the Grizzlies to match-low .054 hitting.
Montana fell behind in the third set 14-9, then rallied behind the serving of sophomore Kelsey Schile to tie it at 14.
The teams went back and forth until North Dakota used a 4-0 run to turn a 19-19 deadlock into a decisive 23-19 advantage. Montana would twice pull to within one, but kills from Ellen Krueger and Lexi Robinson ended the match.
The Grizzlies face an even tougher challenge Saturday night when they host fourth-place Northern Colorado (15-5, 8-3 BSC), the preseason league favorite which beat Montana in four sets in their earlier meeting at Greeley, Colo.
The Bears won in three sets at Montana State Friday night, 26-24, 29-27, 26-24.
"This was a disappointing night, and I'll take full responsibility," Wagner concluded. "I'm expecting to see a different team on the court tomorrow night as we go after our goals against a team equally as good as the one we saw tonight."
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