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Montana Tech volleyball gears up for first home match in 15 months

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BUTTE — When talking about her final home opener, Montana Tech senior volleyball player Kamaile Moody brings the same level of energy as a kid talking about what they're getting for Christmas.

But at least Christmas comes around once a year.

"Oh my gosh, it's been like 400-and-something days and it is so exciting," Moody said during a Wednesday practice. "I can't wait to be back in the gym playing volleyball, playing with my team. Just doing what we were supposed to do last semester. But with COVID it's hard and I'm glad we're able to do it now."

On Friday, the Orediggers (0-2 overall, 0-2 Frontier Conference) will host MSU-Northern for the first match of a two-day doubleheader. It will be Tech's first match at the HPER Complex since it swept Lewis-Clark State on Nov. 9, 2019.

That season, the Orediggers went on to fall to Providence in the Frontier Conference volleyball tournament championship match but still earned a berth in the NAIA national tournament.

There, the Orediggers lost a one-set tiebreaker to Indiana Wesleyan with a chance to advance to bracket play on the line. Tech ended the season at No. 17 in the NAIA coaches' poll.

The Orediggers then went into standby mode for the next year.

Like the rest of her team, Moody took the extended layover as a chance to zero in on academics while getting in workouts and practices when she could.

"I just focused on school and focused on my work and just got mentally ready for the season," Moody said.

The Orediggers opened their season in Billings last weekend against Rocky Mountain College. The Battlin' Bears earned the two-match sweep but for Brian Solomon, Tech's ninth-year head coach, there were more meaningful things at play in those first contests.

"It was a such a different feeling, it was bittersweet," Solomon said. "There's so many things going on in the world that are more important. We felt pretty lucky to get a chance to play."

"It didn't go the way we wanted it but I think everybody was so excited," Moody said. "We haven't been on the court forever. It was just nerves and Rocky's a great team and I think we're a great team, too, and it's just going to take us playing them again just to get them. It was wonderful though just to be back on the court."

Tech plays MSU-Northern on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. The Skylights (1-1, 1-1) split a doubleheader with Montana Western last week.