Courtesy: Carroll Sports Information
After falling in the first set, No. 18 Carroll College volleyball battled back to win three-straight sets and earn a 19-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-23 win over No. 25 Montana Tech to claim the Frontier Conference Tournament Championship and the automatic bid the NAIA Championship.
It is the first time in head coach Moe Boyle's tenure, that the Saints captured the both the regular-season and conference championship in the same year.
"I am so excited for the girls they've certainly earned it from camp in August all the way through the season," Boyle said. "They have done everything that we have asked them to do. It is hard to put others first, and this group put the team first and it made all the difference in the world."
The chemistry showed throughout the season and it shined brightest when the Saints were down and had to make a run. It happened in some of the most challenging matches of the season and it happened again Saturday evening.
After going up 2-0 in the first set, Tech went on a 11-3 run to build a 11-5 lead. Carroll battled back to cut the lead to 19-18 but the Diggers closed on a 6-1 run. It appeared like Montana Tech had the momentum and they built a 7-4 lead in the second set before Carroll found its footing.
The Saints went on an 8-0 run to build a 12-7 lead and never trailed the rest of the set en route to the 25-19 win.
Carroll continued to build the momentum in the third set with a 5-0 run to start things off. Tech rallied and cut the lead to 16-14 but that is as close as they would come, Carroll closed out the 25-21 win to take a 2-1 lead.
The fourth set was a battle from the first serve. The two teams traded points, the Saints led most of the way but couldn't build a significant lead. Tech took their first lead of the set at 16-15 and led 19-17 but the Carroll went on a 6-1 run to take control. Holly Morehouse closed the match out with a kill to get the 25-23 win.
Carroll moves to 23-6 on the season and avenged two of their three conference losses Saturday. The Saints played the University of Great Falls 3-1 in the semifinals Saturday morning before meeting the Diggers in the title match.
"The girls came ready to play," Boyle said. "They knew that we had lost to these two teams in the last few weeks and they came into this tournament with something to prove to themselves and they did that tonight."
The Saints now wait on the NAIA selection committee to learn their fate. With Carroll's top-20 ranking, the Saints may advance directly to the NAIA final site in Iowa. Carroll's success this season started with a great start, including wins over ranked teams and a 4-0 weekend in California.
"I am really excited about the schedule we played and the success that we've had," Boyle said. "I know that as we go into the tournament, the resiliency that we've shown is really going to come out. I hope that can continue to get better because we still need to work on a lot of things but it is exciting that we still have a chance to work on those things."
Carroll will learn its fate Monday at the NAIA selection show but for now, the Saints can celebrate, knowing they are still alive.
"We have three seniors that have been tremendous leaders this year," Boyle said. "They came in as friends and they will leave as better friends but they aren't done yet and that is the exciting part about winning tonight."