Montana Western powers past DSU
No matter which team stepped off the court on Friday, one team was going to come away with its first Frontier Conference win of the season.
At the start, the Dickinson State and Montana Western volleyball teams weren't giving away an inch.
The first set combined for 60 points with the win going in favor of the Bulldogs. Western caught fire and didn't let go taking a sweep of DSU 31-29, 25-16, 25-12 at Scott Gymnasium.
"We missed so many critical serves at the end of (the first) match," DSU head coach Stenman said. "Then they were thinking about what could have been instead of what we need to do now. Once we started to struggle the second set, it snowballed from there.
"It's frustrating, because I know we are better."
Western's junior setter Paige Latimer said it might have taken the team a little while to get over the 8-hour bus ride from Dillon, Mont.
"We didn't really get off the bus right away," she said with a smile. "The emotion we started with wasn't very good, but after a while we started getting things going."
The Blue Hawks and Bulldogs traded points throughout the first set. Once one team had a bit of momentum, the other team would take it away. It went back and forth until DSU were saddled by back-to-back errors to give the Bulldogs a 30-29 lead.
Western's Brea Mitchell, who had seven kills in the match, ripped down the set-winning kill. Latimer dished out assists to five different players which had five or more kills. The junior setter finished 34 assists, five kills and four digs.
"Paige has been our starting setter for three years," Western Lisa Griffiths said. "She took her lumps as a freshman a little bit and grew into the role. It's nice to see her move the ball around. We don't have one hitter like Dickinson does. (Avila) can take over a match. We don't have a hitter that's ready to take that many swings, but we have five hitters that are ready to play really well."
After dropping the opening set, the Blue Hawks were looking to respond in the second.
However, the Bulldogs got on a roll there was little DSU could do to stop them. Western used the tandem of Emily Erickson and Breanne Kelley to knock down a combined 21 kills. Mitchell also knocked down the set-winning kill in the second.
DSU's senior outside hitter Melissa Avila, who had a game-high 13 kills and 11 digs, said the team has to do the little things correct.
"When we do the little things correctly, everything strings along together," she said. "The little things kind of just got to us a little bit. We were up and down again, but it's one of those things where it's hard to pinpoint what exactly went wrong. At times, everyone did something correctly and then at times at just couldn't figure out what to do next."
Kelly O'Connor supplied 19 assists, seven digs and four kills for the Blue Hawks, while Magdalyn Rauser had six kills and two aces.
Stenman agreed about focusing on the fundamentals, which is what the Blue Hawks will be practicing before traveling to Westminster (Utah) College on at 7 p.m. Thursday.
"We need to go back all the way to the basics," he said. "We are focusing too much on the big picture and we aren't doing the little things that we were doing in the previous six or seven games. We have to play smart and have a purpose with what we do."
MW 31 25 25 -- 3
DSU 29 16 12 -- 0
Kills: MW, Emily Erickson 11, Breanne Kelley 10, Brea Mitchell 7, Charelle Minor 6, Paige Latimer 5, Bailey Branson 5, Bailey Wilson 1, Mikayla Ness 1. DSU, Melissa Avila 13, Magdalyn Rauser 6, Kelly O'Connor 4, Aly Schieno 1, Linaya Schroeder 1, Kate Golding 1, Whitney Weidow 1.
Blocks: MW, Mitchell 2, Minor 1, Erickson 1, Branson 1. DSU, Avila 1, O'Connor 1, Golding 1.
Aces: MW, Jami Flink 1, Branson 1, Erickson 1, Latimer 1. DSU, Rauser 2, Meghan Meyer 1.
Digs: MW, Kendra Mendicino 14, Kelley 12, Branson 11, Erickson 6, Latimer 4, Mitchell 1. DSU, Avila 11, Natasha Malana 10, Justine Braunagel 8, O'Connor 7, Jenifer Huebner 2, Weidow 1, Schroeder 1, Schieno 1.
Assists: MW, Latimer 34, Rachelle Chamberlain 2, Erickson 1, Wilson 1, Mendicino 1. DSU, O'Connor 19, Morgan Lutz 3, Malana 2.