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With plenty of veteran players, favored Montana Tech volleyball wants to enjoy the ride

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Posted at 2:01 PM, Aug 18, 2023

BUTTE — Maureen Jessop racked up well north of 1,000 kills in her first four years as an outside hitter for Montana Tech's volleyball squad. Now in her final season, she's decided that she's not going to weigh herself down with the burden of expectations — despite what preseason polls and rankings say.

"Let's just go out and have fun and see where it takes us," said the Corvallis product and graduate student. "It's not a lot of expectations for us. A lot of us are so experienced that we're just here to have fun our last season."

Tech (24-9 overall last season and 9-1 in the Frontier Conference) was selected to repeat as Frontier Conference champions in the preseason coaches poll and came in at No. 15 in the NAIA preseason rankings.

But for a team looking to make it three straight trips to the national tournament, those superfluous labels are just that. And with the majority of this squad set to graduate after this season, Jessop's have-fun-and-trust-the-process mentality is shared among her teammates.

"I think getting too worked up and overthinking things can be the difference between winning and losing games," said setter McKenna Kaelber. "I think keeping it light and just having a good, fun atmosphere is really helpful and beneficial on and off the court."

Tech is in the midst of a three-day, three-match slate as it hosts the Big Sky Volleyball Challenge. The Orediggers opened their schedule on Thursday with a sweep over Evergreen State (Wash.).

"A huge relief," said Jessop. It's always a really nice relief even win or loss just getting that first one out of the way."

Tech will open Frontier Conference play on Sept. 14 against Montana Western in Dillon and will play its first home conference match on Sept. 29 against MSU-Northern.