By JOEL CARLSON for GoGriz.com | Photos By WILLIAM MUNOZ
Weber State rallied from an early deficit to post a 3-1 victory over the Montana volleyball team Wednesday night at the West Auxiliary Gym and spoil the Grizzlies’ Big Sky Conference opener and home debut of first-year coach Brian Doyon. The Wildcats won 19-25, 25-19, 25-22, 30-28.
Ciera Borho had 18 kills and Weber State (5-7, 1-0 BSC) hit .264, but it was largely self-inflicted damage that did in Montana (4-9, 0-1 BSC). The Grizzlies had 13 service errors and got aced 12 times in a match they had enough offense to win in straight sets.
“The difference was serving and passing for sure,” said Doyon. “We spotted them 25 points in a tight match. It’s the same thing that plagued us all preseason, our serving and our passing.”
Montana hit a season-high .279 and got big offensive nights from Hannah Sackett, Capri Richardson and Janell Sparks, but in the end that solid offense came up a few points short of covering the team’s errors.
Sackett finished with 17 kills on .237 hitting, her sixth straight match with 17 or more kills, Richardson added 13 kills on .385 hitting and a team-high four blocks, and Sparks totaled 10 kills on .348 hitting.
Those numbers came on a night the team’s loose passing had setters Raegan Lindsey and Rachel DeArman consistently pulled off the net. Even so, Lindsey had 26 assists, DeArman 24, and on offense the Grizzlies were at their season best.
“We hit .279, so our hitters were getting it done, even with passing that wasn’t great, so that was good,” said Doyon. “Our setters were able to find the right hitters that were open. That part was really encouraging.”
Montana hit .304 in the opening set and steadily pulled away for a 25-19 win against a Weber State offense that looked out of sorts. The Wildcats had just eight kills in the opening set on .077 hitting and had nearly as many attack errors (six) as kills.
But Weber State matched Montana offensively the rest of the night, hitting .313 in sets two, three and four. The difference came down to errors.
The Wildcats hit .440 in the second set and aced the Grizzlies four times in the third while also benefitting from three UM service errors to rally from a 15-11 deficit. Weber State didn’t take its first lead in the set until the Wildcats made it 21-20, and they won the set on a service ace.
Montana was in solid control of the fourth set, building leads of 16-11 and 21-17, but a Griz service error followed immediately by a Weber ace sparked the visitors to the victory.
Montana fought off five match points with some gutsy offensive attacks — Sackett twice calmly put down kills on potential match points, as did Richardson to make it 28-28 — but a Weber State kill and Griz attack error ended the match.
“The girls were swinging with confidence and really trying to put the ball away and score points,” said Doyon. “Offensively we did some really nice things. There are definitely some things to build on, so I think the team will bounce back from this.”
Sadie Ahearn had a team-high 12 digs, Brianna Gardner had seven kills and a pair of blocks, and redshirt freshman Mykaela Hammer came off the bench to add a season-high eight kills on .300 hitting in three sets of work. She has hit .250 or better the last five matches in which she’s seen action.
“Mykaela came in and did another nice job for us,” said Doyon, who will take his team to Bozeman for the first time Saturday. Montana and Montana State play at 7 p.m. at MSU’s Shroyer Gym. The Bobcats (2-6, 0-0 BSC) open league play at home Thursday night against preseason league favorite Idaho State.
“We’re going to learn from this one and build. We’ve got a big match on Saturday, and I know the girls will come prepared and ready to play.”