UMW News BureauThe University of Montana Western Bulldog volleyball team finished their season with a loss in the first round of the Frontier Conference tournament to the Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears 25-14, 25-10, 25-16. By Lowell Peterson The University of Montana Western Bulldog volleyball team finished their season with a loss in the first round of the Frontier Conference tournament to the Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears 25-14, 25-10, 25-16. The Bears defeated the Bulldogs in both regular season matches and once again proved to be a tough matchup. “We knew we had a tall challenge when we were matched with Rocky for the first round,” head coach Lisa Griffiths said. “They are a powerful team who has enjoyed a lot of both conference and national success this season.” Even though Rocky seemed to win the match handily, the Bulldogs battled hard and Coach Griffiths saw some positives in her team’s performance. “Our goal going into the match was to show Rocky a different team than they saw the first two times this season and I definitely felt like we did that,” Griffiths added. “We were able to extend the rallies and challenge their offense much more than before. Our .212 team hitting percentage in game three and 12 kills was a season best in our three matches against Rocky.” In the two regular season matches against the Bears, Montana Western had just 34 kills and three blocks in six sets while being defeated 3-0 both times. Even though they still lost 3-0 in the tournament match, the Bulldogs had 22 kills and seven blocks with 12 of the kills coming in the third set. These numbers showed that the Bulldogs played much better in the final meeting. “Not only did we improve in attacking, we also bested our previous number of kills, blocks, and digs,” Griffiths said. Emily Erickson and Susanne Rehse led the Bulldogs in kills with five each and Rehse was involved in four blocks. Paige Latimer was tops in assists with 21 and Schmid had 13 digs. Shelby Mack and Bailey Branson added 11 digs each and Breanne Kelly had the lone service ace. Rocky was led in kills by Jillian Bates with 13 and Sara Brunner added 11. Brunner had three service aces and Kristin Barott led the Bears with 32 assists. Jillian Stanek was tough defensively with five blocks. Coach Griffiths will now focus on recruiting to add depth to a young Bulldog team, which steadily improved over the season. Montana Western will lose just two seniors (Susanne Rehse and Kalya Schmid) from the team, although both were key contributors and will be missed. Coach Griffiths was pleased overall with how the team battled and had high praise for her two seniors. “I was proud of how the team competed throughout the match and it was fitting that our seniors led us until the end,” Griffiths commented. “They have set amazing examples for the underclassmen in their work ethic, determination and composure and that was definitely showcased at the conference tournament. They have laid it all on the line for this program and we cannot thank them enough for what they have done.”
The University of Montana Western has launched a national search for the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs position.