The 17th-ranked Carroll volleyball team trailed in every set Friday night but, in every set, the Saints found a way to win and pulled off the 25-23, 25-20, 25-22 win over Frontier Conference second-place Montana Western to move to 16-4 on the season and 5-1 at the midpoint in Frontier Conference play.
The Saints began the match with four-straight points and it looked like the Saints were on their way to another dominant victory, but the Bulldogs had other ideas and battled back to take a 16-12 lead. The Saints then went on an 8-3 run to take 20-19 lead and held off Western for the rest of the set to earn the win.
The second set was a back-and-forth battle with neither team gaining a lead of more than two points before the Saints closed out the set with a 4-1 run.
The third set looked to be all Bulldogs after a 9-1 run gave UMW a 13-7 lead. The Saints were struggling to get the ball in the court, with 11 hitting errors and three serving errors in the set. Carroll rallied down 20-16 with a 9-2 run to close out the set 25-22 and earn the sweep. It is the fourth consecutive conference sweep for the Saints.
“We hung in there,” coach Moe Boyle said. “In the first two sets we played really hard; the third set we lost our focus. We were hitting tentatively and gave them way too many points. I think we were down six and found our way back, and there is a lot to be said for that. I am proud of the way we found our way back and finished it off even when some people might have counted us out.”
The Saints hit a respectable .203 for the match but were .000 in the third set with 11 errors to go along with 11 kills.
“Western keeps a lot of balls off of the floor and that makes it really frustrating,” Boyle said. “The hitters have to be more creative and we tried to force things in the third set and it hurt us. A team like Western who is so tough defensively makes you figure out other ways to play besides your power game. I am really proud of the way the girls overcame that tonight.”
The Saints have now won 12 of their last last 14 matches. Carroll has a two-match lead on four teams that are tied for second in the Frontier at 3-3. Carroll has been dominant at times but even when the Saints have struggled, they have found a way to win.
“I really attribute what we are doing right now to the leadership and the chemistry on the court of those three seniors,” Boyle said. “They just have a tremendous belief in each other and that is obviously paying off for us this season.”
Carroll will take a week off of conference play and play a neutral-site game against Johnson & Wales (Colo.) in Billings on Saturday at the Fortin Center at Rocky Mountain College.