(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)
FARMINGTON, Utah – Missy Huddleston's transition to the middle blocker position continues to reap individual and team benefits. The senior volleyball player was named the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week for the second week in a row on Monday.
Huddleston is the second Grizzly ever to win back-to-back player-of-the-week honors, joining Claudia Houle, who did so to begin the 2005 season.
In two road contests – including Montana's first win in Moscow, Idaho, since 1991 – Huddleston averaged 1.30 blocks and 2.30 digs per set.
She was recognized for her defense, but her offense might have been more impressive. Huddleston averaged 3.00 kills per set on .349 hitting, including a 17-kill, 0-error performance at Eastern Washington (.586 hitting percentage). She recorded a double-double in both matches.
"Missy brings it every night at 100 percent," head coach Allison Lawrence said. "She plays with resilience and dominance, and her heart is so big for this program. She continues to find new levels to her game, as a senior, which is incredible leadership and an incredible legacy to leave."
In Montana's road win at Idaho, Huddleston had a team-high eight blocks, to go along with her 13 kills and 11 digs. Trailing 2-0, the senior was instrumental in Montana's come-from-behind win. She served during a 5-0 run in Set 4 to help turn a 19-16 deficit into a 21-19 lead. Her impact was even greater in the deciding fifth set. With Montana trailing 12-10, the Grizzlies rallied for an 18-16 win, with Huddleston recording three blocks and a kill over Montana's final eight points.
The following night at Eastern Washington, Huddleston had five blocks, 12 digs and the 17 kills at an astonishing .586 clip. She scored Montana's first four points in Set 3 and later in the frame, with the score tied at 20-20, had kills on three of Montana's final five points to extend the match. Montana took control of the fourth set with a 9-4 run, including two Huddleston blocks.
In six matches since being moved to the middle blocker position, Huddleston is averaging 3.12 kills per set on .292 hitting, in addition to 2.27 digs and 1.35 blocks per set. Her blocking leads the Big Sky Conference during that span.
Montana has won three of its past five matches to move within a game of a top-eight position, which would earn a berth to the Big Sky tournament. The Grizzlies have four matches remaining in the regular season, including home matches this week vs. Northern Arizona (Thursday) and Southern Utah (Saturday). Prior to Saturday's match, Huddleston and the Griz senior class will be recognized.
"I came into my senior year thinking about what else I could bring to this team," Huddleston said. I've pushed myself, outside of my comfort zone especially, and it's starting to pay off. I think we are gaining confidence. We still have time over these next few weeks to leave our mark."