Westmont Volleyball (22-6), ranked 25th in the NAIA, will be headed north for the opening round match of the NAIA Women’s Volleyball Championship. The Warriors will travel to Butte, Montana to take on the #17 Montana Tech Orediggers (24-8).
Montana Tech was the regular season champion of the Frontier Conference, going 9-1 in conference play. The Orediggers entered the Frontier Conference Tournament as the number one seed, but were upset in the semifinals by Montana Western (12-17) by a score of 3-1 (19-25, 25-16, 26-18, 25-23).
The Warriors and Orediggers have met on six previous occasions, all at neutral sites and all as part of early-season tournaments in Southern California. The Warriors hold a 4-2 series advantage and have won the last two meetings, including the most recent in August of 2019.
The Orediggers and Warriors have played four common opponents this year, all from the Golden State Athletic Conference. On August 20, Montana Tech defeated Vanguard 3-1 (25-18, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24) in Butte as part of the Big Sky Volleyball Challenge.
On August 26, the Orediggers faced both Arizona Christian and The Master’s as part of the Electric City Invitational in Great Falls, Montana. Montana Tech lost to Arizona Christian 3-1 (26-28, 25-21, 25-23, 25-21) before defeating The Master’s 3-0 (25-11, 25-15, 25-23).
Then on September 3, Montana Tech defeated Ottawa (Ariz.) 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-21) in the Bellevue Invitational in Bellevue, Nebraska.
By comparison, Westmont defeated both Vanguard, Arizona Christian and The Master’s twice each and split with Ottawa.
Maureen Jessop, a 6-1 senior outside hitter, leads the Oredigger attack, averaging 3.87 kills per set. Olivia Muir, also a senior outside hitter, contributes another 2.38 kills per set. Senior middle blocker Taylor Henley averages 2.17 kills and 1.19 blocks per set.
Senior McKenna Kaelber and freshman Roslyn Zentz serve as Montana Techs setters with Kaelber averaging 7.97 assists per set and Zentz notches 4.42 per week.
The winner will advance to the final site in Sioux City, Iowa, along with the winners of the other 23 Opening Round matches. Play begins at the final site on November 30.
Ron Smith is the sports information director at Westmont College.