Northwest University opened play at the 2017 Big Sky Challenge with a 3-1 victory over Montana Western and sweeping No. 20 ranked Bellevue in the Butte Civic Center. At 5-1, the Eagle continue their best season start since 2006.
Match 1 – Northwest U 3, Montana Western 1 (25-22, 25-19, 20-25, 25-16)
In their first match of the day, the Eagles pulled away from Montana Western for a close 25-22 first set victory as the Eagles adjusted to the fast paced Bulldog offense. Both teams were efficient offensively as MWU hit .324 and NU hit .314 for the set.
Northwest U took an early lead in the second set and would come away with a 25-19 win to go up 2-0 in the match. MWU recovered and came back in the third set as they would deny an Eagle comeback and take the set, 25-20.
The final set was all Eagles as they broke out to an early, 13-5 lead, and never allowed the Bulldogs to gain any momentum as they would close out the set, 25-16, for the 4 set victory.
Keann White lead Northwest U (4-1) with 13 kills and a .440 hitting average. Mattie Jo Johnson added 12 kills, hitting .450 for the match. Morgan Pilon and Brooke Riddle led the team in assists as Pilon totaled 23 while Riddle added 18. Pilon added 12 digs for a double-double. Alysanne Van Dyke had a team high 23 digs.
Montana Western (3-1) was led by Tessa Miller’s 15 kills and an efficient .545 hitting average. Kiarra Johnson had a match high 43 assists while teammate Dylan Fowler led the team with 26 digs.
“Montana Western had us on our heels early in the match with their fast offense,” stated Steven Bain, NU head coach in a press release. “We made several adjustments with our blocking assignments and the players did a terrific job of staying on task the rest of the match. From there, the match came down to serving and passing and as the match wore on, our ability to control those two phases of the game was the deciding factor.”
Match 2 – NU 3 (RV), Bellevue (No. 20) 0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-19)
The NU Eagles knocked off their first ranked team of the 2017 season as they scored a straight set victory (3-0 – 25-19, 25-14, 25-19) over No. 20 ranked Bellevue (Neb.) in a 95 minute contest in their second match of the day.
The 20th ranked Bruins looked to be on their way to a set one win when took a 17-13 lead. But, Northwest U would get things going and would tie the score at 17-17 after two Sarah Warner service aces. A 9-0 NU run would give the Eagles a 22-17 lead and Mattie Jo Johnson would end the set with a kill and a 25-19 Eagle win.
Northwest U would dominate the second set as they would establish an 18-8 lead aided by five straight BU errors. Amanda Waterman’s kill would give the Eagles a 21-12 lead and Sarah Warner’s kill would close out the set giving NU a 2-0 match lead.
Set three would see the Eagles leading the entire way breaking out to a 10-5 lead. Bellevue would get no closer than five the rest of the way as a kill by Amanda Waterman and Mattie Jo Johnson would give the Eagles the three set sweep.
Northwest U (5-1) showed a balance attack with Mattie Jo Johnson leading the way with 9 kills, 0 errors and a match high .900 hitting average. Sarah Warner added 8 kills and Amanda Waterman contributed 6 kills. NU hit .333 as a team. Morgan Pilon and Courteney Carr teamed up for 32 assists with Pilon’s 17 and Carr totaling 15. Alysanne Van Dyke led the team with 15 digs while Waterman added 11 for her double-double.
For Bellevue (1-1), Andrea Carson finished with 9 kills while teammate Maddie Squiers led the Bruins with 20 assists and Lauren Colpitts had 8 digs. NU held BU to .074 hitting for the contest with their 16 blocks.
“First, we have to give credit to Bellevue credit for coming out with a tough serving game,” commented Steven Bain, Eagle head coach in a press release. “We had three reception errors in the first set, which put us in a tough spot. Fortunately, our ladies adjusted to the tempo and location and we were able to stabilize in time to take the set. That was a key point in the match because we were able to pressure them with our serve and our own serve-receive allowed us to side out at a high percentage. We have two more tough opponents tomorrow.”