STORY BY MONTANA SPORTS INFORMATION
MOSCOW, ID – The Montana volleyball team dropped its seventh straight match on Saturday night, falling in straight sets to Idaho at Memorial Gym in Moscow.
The Vandals (7-6, 2-0) limited the Grizzlies (5-10, 0-2) to .071 hitting on their way to a 25-20, 25-15, 25-20 victory, their seventh win in nine matches after opening the season 0-4.
Montana held a late lead in the opening set and was tied with Idaho midway through the third, but the Vandals pulled away in both to complete a 2-0 start to league play. Idaho swept Montana State on Thursday.
“The difference in those two sets was an error here and an error there, whether that be a hitting error, a passing error or some sort of communication error,” said coach Allison Lawrence.
“We’re getting within five points of a very good team in their gym, so I keep coming back to the belief that we’re close. That’s an exciting place to be but also a frustrating one.”
Montana mostly kept up with Idaho in kills, but the Vandals’ size advantage played a role. Idaho had 6 blocks in the opening set, finished with 9 for the match, and forced the Grizzlies into 26 attack errors.
Those errors were a factor all match long. After Montana went up 18-17 in the opening set on a pair of kills by Cassie Laramee, Idaho rolled off three straight points and scored four of its next five on Montana hitting errors. The Grizzlies had 10 for the set.
Idaho hit .306 in the second set and was in control throughout. The third set played out like the first, back and forth before the Vandals made the late plays to pull away.
“There were some really exciting things going on in the first and third sets,” said Lawrence. “We put a lot of pressure on them with our serving, which was one of our goals, and we hit all of our blocking assignments and slowed down the hitters we needed to. We gave ourselves opportunities.
“There are moments when it’s really good volleyball and we’re executing at a high level. At those times we are playing very, very well. The longer we can do that, the longer we’re going to be in these matches.”
Mykaela Hammer led Montana with nine kills, but she also had eight attack errors to hit .029. Missy Huddleston added eight kills and finished with a career-high 19 digs.
Ashley Watkins totaled 32 assists, and Baily Permann had six kills on .231 hitting and three blocks.
Idaho, which has one of the Big Sky Conference’s top offenses, hit .234. It was the sixth time on Montana’s seven-match skid that its opponent has hit better than .200.
“We continue to show up and bring a level of fight that makes me and our staff proud,” said Lawrence. “They are showing a will and a desire to do things the right way and compete hard. I choose this team to go into battle with.”
Montana will make its home debut on Thursday night when the Grizzlies host Sacramento State (11-7, 2-0) at 7 p.m. at the West Auxiliary Gym. Montana will play at Montana State (4-7, 0-2) on Saturday night.