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Montana Tech sweeps Blue Hawks

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson State senior setter Kelly O'Connor, left, and freshman middle hitter Whitney Weidow, back right, go up for a block against Montana Tech's Sydney Norris during a Frontier Conference match on Saturday at Scott Gymnasium.

The Dickinson State volleyball team felt invincible after Friday's home win over Presentation College. But after facing a Frontier Conference opponent, the feelings slowly faded.

The Blue Hawks fell to Montana Tech 25-18, 25-19, 25-23 Saturday afternoon in the Scott Gymnasium. Despite losing both games to the Orediggers this season, the Blue Hawks played better than on Sept. 27, when they were swept 25-11, 25-10, 25-12.

"This time we made them have to adjust to our defense because we were picking things up," libero Tasha Malana said. "They eventually adjusted faster and more effectively than we did, which is what it came down to in the end."

Outside hitter Linaya Schroeder added: "Since we did pick it up, we threw some things at them that they weren't really expecting."

DSU head coach Jon Stenman said his team didn't play aggressive enough. In Friday's game against Presentation College, the Blue Hawks played with more intensity, took more chances with hits and put the ball away.

But in the first set against the Orediggers, the Blue Hawks never had a lead, but kept within at least one or two points. When Tech had a 10-9 lead, the game started to get away from DSU and the Orediggers went on a five-point run. For DSU, there were communication problems and every player on the court made safe hits, making it easier for Tech to keep the ball in play.

"I really think we have a mental block about beating a Frontier Conference team because there's not a person on the team who's beaten a Frontier Conference team," Stenman said. "We come out and we are afraid.

"The thing I'm most disappointed with the exception of Linaya. Linaya came out aggressive the whole time ... We didn't really start to play until halfway through the second set."

Schroeder finished the match with seven kills, a dig and block and hit .353, the best on the team.

In the first two sets, DSU had a combined 12 kills, compared to Tech's 29 kills, and Schroeder was the only player to hit positive. Sydney Norris and Korey Krumm each supplied nine kills for the Orediggers.

However, everything changed in the third set. The Blue Hawks went out to an early 6-2 run before the Orediggers adjusted to their offense and kept the game close. But little mistakes -- serving errors, having Tech hit off DSU's block and not hitting aggressively -- cost the Blue Hawks the game.

"They definitely played much better tonight," Tech head coach Brian Soloman said. "It's always hard traveling in the conference, more so for them because it's so far. But for us to be able to come this far and we played solid. Not everything was perfect, we are trying to work on those things, but you're always fortunate to win on the road in the conference so we're very happy with that."

For the Orediggers, libero Kimmy Kavran had a strong performance and gave DSU problems the entire match. Kavran had 16 digs and anytime DSU hit the ball over the net, she received it and passed it off to her teammates.

"We had to keep moving the ball around, we kept giving a ton of shots to the libero and she's the best libero in the conference," Malana said. "We made her look pretty darn good today just because we kept hitting it right to her."

The Blue Hawks go on the road to play Valley City State University on Tuesday, but return home Thursday to play another Frontier Conference match against Westminster College (Utah). With the alleged apprehension against facing Frontier Conference teams, the Blue Hawks are focusing this week on playing more aggressive and taking more chances.

"We're going to work on being more aggressive and just going all out really," Schroeder said. "We have to understand that these teams are too good. Just roll shot, give it to them, swing away and play smart."

MT 25 25 25 -- 3

DSU 18 19 23 -- 0

Kills: MT, Sydney Norris 9, Korey Krumm 9, Haley Druyvestein 8, Samantha Hutcheson 5, Jordan Danz 3, Bailie Cortner 3, Annie Smoot 2, Katie Tabaracci 2. DSU, Melissa Avila 11, Linaya Schroeder 7, Maggie Rauser 4, Kelly O'Connor 3, Kate Golding 2, Whitney Weidow 2.

Blocks: MT, Norris 1, Krumm 1, Druyvestein 1, Danz 1. DSU, Schroeder 1, Avila 1, Rauser 1, Golding 1.

Aces: MT, Krumm 3, Norris 2. DSU, Meyer 2, Avila 1.

Digs: MT, Kimmy Kavran 16, Norris 11, Mackenzie Bauck 9, Angie Pancost 3. DSU, Tasha Malana 20, O'Connor 8, Justine Braunagel 7, Avila 6, Meghan Meyer 4, Jenifer Huebner 3, Rauser 1, Golding 1.

Assists: MT, Bauck 18, Alison Lunde 15, Kavran 3, Pancost 1, Norris 1. DSU, O'Connor 23, Malana 2, Morgan Lutz 1, Braunagel 1.

Records: MT 14-7, DSU 2-17

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.