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Carroll College volleyball showed resilience at 2023 Big Sky Challenge

NAIA Volleyball
Posted at 12:20 PM, Aug 22, 2023

HELENA — Teams from the Frontier Conference, the Cascade Collegiate Conference, and the Crossroads League gathered last week for the round-robin Big Sky Challenge volleyball tournament to open the 2023 season. Tournament host Carroll College came away with three victories

“It was great to come out with three wins, there’s a lot of adversity going on this weekend, probably have some bumps in the road as we go forward, but to know that they’re resilient and playing “for” each other and not just the six people on the court…I’m really proud of their resilience this weekend,” Carroll coach Maureen Boyle said.

Boyle is beginning her 19th year at the helm of the Carroll program, and she is excited for what lies ahead, saying, “the game is so much faster, the athleticism of the girls really seems to be growing and again, the speed of the game just continues to improve and that’s what you battle year after year.”

Volleyball NAIA
Carroll College hosted 2023 Big Sky Challenge volleyball tournament to open the season.

This was the first year Boyle and her squad would open the season at home in over a decade.

“I’m so proud of them, you don’t really know who you are until you play against another team, because we look really good against ourselves, but to be able to come out here and face the adversity that we did, (playing) the different styles of volleyball that we did this weekend, yeah I’m proud of them, but we have a long season ahead,” stated Boyle.

The Saints came out flat in their opener against Mount Vernon Nazarene on Friday but rallied for a dominating three-set sweep over Warner Pacific to end Day 1.

Julia Carr is one of the senior leaders on the Saints as she was marvelous in the back row, where she averaged over seven digs per set to earn Frontier defensive player of the week honors. Carr also took home that honor after Week 1 of the 2022 season.

NAIA Volleyball
Carroll volleyball players Mara Lynch, left, and Julia Carr pose for a photo during the 2023 Big Sky Challenge in Helena.

“I think we kind of had a slow start in our first match and then later that night we just had great energy and played together. We just wanted to swing away and go all out for it and we wanted to continue it, and I think we maintained it and that was a really big win for us,” said Carr.

The Saints, who finished 14-13 last season, went 3-1 at the tournament. After dropping the only set of their final three matches versus Spring Arbor, Carroll answered back. During the final set, the Cougars got within two at 22-20 but the Saints held on to take control of the closing match.

Carroll's Mara Lynch, a graduate of Bozeman High School, finished the opening weekend with 38 kills, nine assists and 47 digs.

“I just like to hit it hard; I (just) think everyone has so much confidence this year and we know that we can put the ball away,” mentioned Lynch, a fifth-year senior for the Saints.