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Bulldog Volleyball Closes Historic Season With Final Loss At NAIA National Championships

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Lindsey Branch, UMW Sports Information

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — The Montana Western volleyball team caps off a historic season with a 3-1 loss to no. 13 Midland University by scores of 25-20, 23-25, 22-25, and 16-25.


The Bulldogs recorded their first appearance and win in NAIA postseason play and finish out the season at 22-8 overall.



"Super proud of everything that this team accomplished. Getting here was a huge feat for us to do and was one of our goals and they accomplished that goal," Head Coach Katie Lovett said. "We didn't know what this experience was going to entail so getting to come here and see what it was all about and see what things we need to focus on. Super excited for the future of this program and where we are going. Thank you to the seniors and alumni who have come in the past to help up get to where we are now."


How It Happened

UMW came out swinging, ready to flip the script from the first loss of the tournament. Matching each other point for point early in set one, the Bulldogs went on a tear going on their own 6-0 run that was capped by a block from KayLee Kopp and Danyel Martin. Up 16-8, Midland fought their way back into the set to close the lead to four points. Despite the four-point deficit, the Bulldogs were able to ride a scoring run and take the 25-20 win following kills from Peyton Vogl and Kaitlyn Van Well.



Mirroring the first frame, the two teams continued to match each other throughout the first points of the set. Midland found momentum and rode a 5-2 scoring run to a 16-13 lead midway through the set. UMW worked from behind, upping their tempo and finding a pair of points to close the gap to 16-15. With Midland jumping out once again to a 23-20 lead, the Bulldogs put up a fight and tied the set at 23 with a kill from Kaitlyn Van Well and a pair of hitting errors from the Warriors. Despite the glimmer of hope, the Bulldogs were unable to close out the comeback and fell 25-23 in the second frame.


Trailing 24-17 late in the third set, UMW put their best effort forth and put up a powerful late set run. A pair of kills from Vogl coupled with a block from Vogl and Jordan Olson highlighted the 5-0 run that brought the Bulldogs within two. With no margin for error, the Bulldog's late set magic ran out as the Warriors were able to finish the set 25-22 on a kill from the middle.


UMW battled to the end, but luck was not on the side of the Red and Black as Midland raced to a quick 16-9 set lead. With sparks igniting a few short scoring spurts, the Bulldogs were unable to light a fire and overcome the Warrior surge. UMW capped off with a final set loss of 25-16.



Notables

  • UMW saw three athletes reach double-digits in kills with Vogl, Martin, and Olson totaling 13 apiece.

  • The Bulldogs outhit the Warriors .165 to .154 across the match and totaled 53 kills.

  • The Bulldogs continued to struggle at the service line, totaling 10 service aces in the game compared to one from the Warriors.

  • Kaylee Fritz led the Bulldogs with 31 assists and totaled 11 digs.

  • Kopp led in the back row, posting 18 digs in the game.

Final Season Notes

The Bulldogs cap off the historic season after posting their highest win percentage since the 1996 season when the Bulldogs went 25-8 overall. They also made their first ever appearance in the NAIA Women's Volleyball National Tournament and went 1-2 overall.


Multiple Bulldogs hit career milestones across the season. Peyton Vogl totaled over 500 kills and 200 blocks. Both KayLee Kopp and Danyel Martin broke the 500-kill threshold. Martin also broke UMW's total career block record and finished the season with 279 total career blocks.



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