HELENA -- Everything is clicking for the Carroll College volleyball team.
A 3-1 victory over University of Providence on Saturday -- 27-25, 23-25, 25-12, 25-14 -- gave the Saints their fifth consecutive win, and showed how far the Saints have come in a few short weeks.
“I think it’s a matter of belief,” Saints coach Moe Boyle said. “Anytime you lose a group of seniors that we did last year, you lose that leadership and we really haven’t had somebody step up. But as group they continue to believe in each other. They finally believe in each other.”
Carroll (14-10, 7-3) got off to a slow start, Boyle said, perhaps slightly lethargic from Friday's sweep of Montana State-Northern. Whatever the case, the Saints scrapped to a first-set victory.
In the first set, the Saints and Argos battled back and forth before the Argos built a three-point lead in the middle of the set. Carroll rallied to tie the set at 20 before the University of Providence took a timeout. With Rayna Pilgeram serving, the Saints went up two 22-20, prompting yet another Argos timeout. Carroll had chances at set point, but the Argos won several balls at the net and came back to tie the game 25-25. A block by Holly Morehouse, followed by Pilgeram’s kill, gave the Saints a 27-25 win.
Carroll ebbed and flowed through the second set, building leads and withstanding the Argos’ charges, but eventually the Argos (9-8, 5-5) took advantage of Carroll’s errors and broke through late in the set, winning 25-23.
It may have also awakened the Saints. Boyle said the Saints’ energy picked up late in the set, and fully manifested in the third set.
“You’re always going to make errors,” Boyle said. “You can’t compound one with five. That’s what we were doing early on in the match. As time went on we played point for point until we went on a run. Our energy got us going.”
The Saints jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the third set. The lead ballooned to eight, 15-7, as the Saints came out on the better end of long volleys. The Saints' play put the Argos out of sorts, like they had been reduced to a shell of themselves. Players stumbled into each other, missed digs and after putting together so many strong rallies in the first two games, the Argos faded. Carroll ran away with the third set 25-12.
The fourth set was almost ceremonial, as the Saints kept up the pressure and controlled the Argos throughout. Carroll won with ease, 25-14.
Mallory Arbizzani finished with a hitting percentage of .294 and two solo blocks. Rayna Pilgeram had a .563 hitting percentage and piled up 41 assists and 14 digs, chipping in two assisted blocks, too. Holly Morehouse’s .393 htiting percentage and 15 digs also gave the Saints a big boost.
Brielle Bumgarner led the Saints’ defense, taking part in eight total blocks (two solo).
Since getting swept by Rocky Mountain College, the Saints have become a different team, reeling off four consecutive victories in conference, including road wins over league-leading Montana Tech and Lewis-Clark State College.
“They see the talent that they have,” Boyle said. “They see what they can do and what their potential is. As the season has gone on they have melded into who they are as a team. It’s pretty quality. I think they realize the talent that we have and they are not resting on not having ownership and wondering who it is going to be.”
The Saints move into a tie for second place in the Frontier with two more regular season games left. Carroll hosts Western on Senior Night, and then closes out the regular season at Rocky Mountain College.