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Wildcats dig out win against Montana

Weber State women’s volleyball team continued their lead up to the upcoming Big Sky Conference tournament as they defeated the Montana Grizzlies three games to one in their penultimate home game of the season Thursday night at the Swenson Gym.

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Hannah DeYoung spikes one for the Wildcats vs. Grizzlies volleyball game Thursday. (Robert Lewis / The Signpost)

Head coach Jeremiah Larsen said that a potential second-place Big Sky finish is helping the team build momentum for the conference tournament, particularly with the team’s seniors as their time at Weber State winds down.

“[This year’s seniors] were my first recruits,” Larsen said. “They’ve had nothing but winning seasons since I’ve been here, except for one. They’ve helped transform this program from a 6-win team to a 20-win team. It’s pretty impressive what they can do.”

Redshirt freshman Dani Nay led the team with 18 kills, three digs, and one assist. Senior outside hitter Megan Gneiting had 10 kills, four assists, and five digs. Senior libero Helena Khouri led with 17 digs and junior setter Ashlyn Power totaled 39 assists.

The Wildcats jumped out to an early four-point lead at 6-2. The Grizzlies were able to come back and take a one-point lead 7-6. The Wildcats tied the game up multiple times but could not retake the lead until they went up 16-15. The teams exchanged points yet again before the Wildcats extended their lead in the match 23-18. The Grizzlies scored one more point before the Wildcats closed out the game, winning by a score of 25-19.

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Grizzlies' Libero gets ready to pop up the serve from the Wildcats on Thursday night's game. (Robert Lewis / The Signpost)

The Wildcats stayed hot entering game two, going up by a score of 5-1. Weber State built their lead up further, with their biggest lead reaching nine points at 15-6. Both teams exchanged points throughout the rest of the game, and the Wildcats’ lead never dropped below seven points. Weber State tamed the Grizzlies in game two, winning handily by a score of 25-10.

Nay said that the team has been working on maintaining their level of play during each game and that their efforts have brought success.

“Right now, we’re just working on playing consistent and playing our kind of volleyball,” Nay said. “We’re working on controlling our side consistently, no matter what the other team’s doing. I know that as we just keep doing that, we’ll find success.”

The Grizzlies went on a small streak to begin game three, taking an 8-4 lead before the Wildcats called their first timeout of the game. The teams continued to swap points in the middle of the match as Montana extended their lead to 14-8, leading to another Weber timeout.

The Wildcats tried to claw back, shrinking the deficit down to four points. Montana never relinquished their lead, however, and despite a hard-fought effort by Weber State, the Wildcats lost game three by a score of 25-15.

Game four began similarly to the previous games, with both teams exchanging leads early on. The Wildcats took a two-point lead at 5-3 before the Grizzlies came back and tied the game at five.

The Wildcats surged ahead and stretched their lead to 17-12 before a Montana timeout. After the timeout, the Wildcats ran away with the game, increasing their lead to 22-13. Montana attempted to make a comeback but fell well short as the Wildcats finished out the game, winning by a score of 25-17.

Gneiting noted that the team’s serving and passing was a big factor in the team’s win.

“When we were able to serve and pass really well at a high level, we were able to get them out of their system,” Gneiting said. “We were also able to run our offense a lot easier.”

The Wildcats play their final home game of the regular season this Saturday Nov. 23 against Montana State. Game time is at 7 p.m. with a ceremony honoring this season’s seniors before the game.

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