(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)
MISSOULA — Montana sophomore outside hitter Paige Clark was named the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.
Clark, a sophomore from Idaho Falls, Idaho, helped Montana to a 2-1 weekend at the Hampton Inn Invitational in Indiana, sweeping Saint Francis and host IUPUI on Saturday. At 4-2 on the young season, the Grizzlies are off to their best six-match start in 14 years.
Clark averaged 4.11 kills per set on a solid .256 hitting for the weekend, also adding a service ace and five blocks. She was in double figures for kills in all three matches, including 12 kills on .296 hitting in a win over Saint Francis and 14 kills at a .355 clip that evening at IUPUI.
Against the Red Flash, Montana jumped out to a 7-0 lead in Set 2, including back-to-back kills from Clark. She had seven kills in the third set alone, including three during a 7-0 scoring run that allowed Montana to turn an 8-8 tie into a comfortable advantage.
Tied, 12-12, in the opening set at IUPUI, Montana closed the frame on a 13-5 run, getting seven points from Clark (four kills and three blocks). Early in Set 2, she served during a 5-0 scoring run and finished the set with seven kills, including one on set point after the Jaguars had tied the score at 23-23.
On the season, Clark ranks third in the league for kills (4.05 per set) and points (4.74), being in double figures for kills in all six matches.
The sophomore is in just her second collegiate volleyball season, but more impressive, she is less than 11 months removed from a transition to the outside hitter position. Starting her freshman season as Montana's backup setter, Clark forced her way onto the court, at one point as a setter in a 6-2 offense and then as a back-row defender. By October, the Grizzlies tried her out at the left pin, where she immediately thrived. Over the final 13 matches of the 2021 season, Clark ranked second in the Big Sky for kills (3.49 per set) and third for total points (4.07). She set a Griz freshman record (25-point scoring era) with 23 kills vs. Portland State and earned second-team All-Big Sky recognition.
So far in 2022, Montana ranks high as a team in nearly every statistical category, ranking second for kills, assists and service aces; third for hitting percentage and opponent hitting percentage; fourth for digs; and sixth for blocks.