STORY BY MONTANA SPORTS INFORMATION
OREM, UT – Utah Valley took advantage of some loose ball control on Montana’s side of the net and used that to its advantage, posting a 3-0 sweep of the Grizzlies on Friday evening at Orem, Utah, on the second day of the Wolverine Invitational.
The Wolverines (2-4) served up eight aces and hit .254 to beat Montana 25-15, 26-24, 25-16.
“We were shaky from the start in this match. We weren’t ourselves,” said first-year coach Allison Lawrence. “And we played a really good team that plays well at home, and they were completely in sync.”
Utah Valley had six service aces in the opening set to establish the tone for the match. Back-to-back aces midway through the set sparked a 10-1 run that put the Wolverines in control.
Montana (3-2) lost in straight sets on Saturday to North Texas, the Grizzlies’ only other loss this season, but this one felt different to Lawrence.
“This felt more like us beating ourselves,” she said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Utah Valley because they controlled the match, but I also think that to a large extent we beat ourselves with our ball control. Our serve-receive broke down from the opening point.
“That kind of shook our confidence. We weren’t taking the same big swings we have been taking, and we weren’t serving as well as we can. It kind of bled into everything.”
Montana led for most of set two, building an 18-13 lead, but a pair of Griz service errors allowed the Wolverines to get back into it.
Montana was the first to 24, going up 24-23 on a block by Baily Permann and Ashley Watkins, but a pair of Madison Dennison kills sandwiched around another service ace allowed Utah Valley to win 26-24 and go up 2-0.
The Wolverines pulled away midway through the third set to finish off the sweep.
“The coaches have to get to work on the video and evaluate if there were some moments we can pinpoint, but I don’t think that was the case,” Lawrence said.
“We weren’t moving as a unit, we weren’t playing as a unit, and the team we played was completely in sync. Utah Valley did a really nice job getting us on our heels a bit, and that separated us as a team.”
Mykaela Hammer had 12 kills on .212 hitting, Permann totaled six kills on .455 hitting and a pair of blocks, Shannon Casale finished with 19 digs, Ashley Watkins had 32 assists and a pair of blocks, and McKenzie Kramer recorded four kills on .500 hitting and two blocks.
Through two tournament matches, Casale is averaging 5.8 digs per set.
Montana will play No. 9 Kansas (5-0) on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. The Jayhawks defeated Utah Valley 3-0 on Thursday and knocked off Long Beach State 3-1 on Friday.