HELENA — Senior Night means a lot of different things to each participant.
To the Carroll College Saints collectively, it meant a sweep.
Carroll (15-10, 8-3) took down Montana Western 25-21, 26-24, 25-13 on Senior Night on Thursday at the PE Center.
Though the Saints will play in the PE Center again once the Frontier Conference tournament starts, their five seniors went out with a bang in their final regular-season game in Helena.
“I think these five seniors have put in a lot of time,” Saints coach Moe Boyle said. “On Senior Night you recognize the seniors, but you don’t realize the blood, sweat and tears that get you to this point. For five girls who have played this amount of time and to get this far there’s a lot that goes into it.”
Carroll honored seniors Catherine Sloan, Casey McInerney, Holly Morehouse, Mallory Arbizzani and Marija Nicksic. Already a bunch that plays with high emotions, the Saints felt a little something extra on Thursday.
“We had a lot of emotions going in,” Arbizzani said. “We were happy that we made it all four years here, except for Casey. She came in as a junior. We’ve had some losing seasons, and this one started as one. We were able to come back and turn it around.”
With photos of the seniors hanging on the west wall -- five photos, one for each senior – the Saints took some lumps from Western (9-15, 1-10) in the early sets, but regained control in each set, and then dominated the third set en route to a victory.
Western controlled the net early in set one, jumping out to a 8-4 lead. Through sloppy play from both sides, the Saints clawed back to tie the game at 11. Ayla Carpenter laid out to rob the Bulldogs of a kill, saving the point and setting up a Saints score that gave them a bit of momentum. Carroll finally put the game away, 25-21.
“We maintained our composure,” Boyle said. “I think our passing kind of gets, one errors turns into two. And then you let them have a few points and then you have to find your way back. If you can maintain that composure throughout as you move on you can get a couple of points ahead.”
Again, in the second set, the Saints got off to a slow start. Western took a 5-2 lead… until Carroll tied everything at seven. The Bulldogs hung around, however, battling evenly with the Saints until Carroll put together three consecutive points to take a 23-20 lead and force a Western timeout. Carroll sat on the brink of a strong closeout to the set, leading 24-20, but Western once again battled back. Holly Morehouse blasted a kill to give the Saints a 26-25 lead. Laurel Kassa served an ace – with an assist by the net – to get the Saints out of the set 26-24.
In the third set the Saints fully took control. Nicksic, one of the seniors, fittingly had the final kill. Carroll won the last set 25-13.
The Bulldogs entered the game having lost their last nine games.
The win moves Carroll into second place, one game ahead of Rocky Mountain College. Rocky plays Western on Friday, and then hosts the Saints on Saturday. More than likely, Saturday’s contest will determine which of the two earns second place.