MISSOULA, Mont. – The Towson University volleyball team earned a split of it’s two matches on day two of the Montana Tournament. The Tigers (8-3) dropped a hard fought 3-2 decision to host Montana before rebounding with a 3-1 win over Furman.
Following Texas Tech's win over Montana, in the final match of the tournament the Tigers were named the tournament champions. I'ishah Keliikoa was named the tournament MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by senior Alysha McCreary.
"This was another roller coaster weekend and we definitely had our opportunitiees to return home, 3-0," said Coach Bruce Atkinson. "Overall, I am pleased with the way we played. I feel that our block made a huge step forward toward getting to where we want it to be."
In the first set against Furman, the Tigers found themselves tied at 20-20. A kill from senior Karolina Sawaniewicz broke the tie and gave the Tigers a lead that they would turn into a 25-22 set win. In the second set, the Tigers took a 16-12 lead behind a kill from junior Katy Buck. A block from Sawaniewicz and secured a 25-19 set win for the Tigers and a 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third set, Furman opened a 10-4 lead and extended it to 17-13. Furman secured a 25-21 win in the set to force a fourth set in the match. Towson trailed 15-11 in the fourth set, before a service error from Furman started a 8-0 run for the Tigers. Leading 19-15, the Tigers extended their lead as a bad set by Furman gave Towson a 25-22 set win.
Five of the Tigers’ six starters in the match reached double digit kills. Buck finished with 15 kills and three digs while Sawaniewicz contributed 14 kills and a pair of service aces. McCreary had a big night with 12 kills while hitting .600 and recording seven blocks. Senior Aubrey Kirven finished with 53 assists and eight digs while sophomore Paige Sekerak had 11 digs.
The Montana match was a close one throughout as the two squads battled through 31 ties and 10 lead changes. In the first set the Tigers found themselves tied with Montana at 19-19. A kill from Sawaniewicz started a 6-3 run by Towson which gave the Tigers a 25-22 set victory. In the second set, tied at 12-12 Towson used a 5-1 run to open up a 17-13 advantage. A block from Buck and Keliikoa gave Towson a 25-20 victory in the second set and a 2-0 lead over Montana.
Montana trailed 23-18 in the third set before rallying for a 25-23 victory. Megan Murphey served the final six points of the set for the Griz. In the fourth set, Towson trailed 17-12 before back-to-back kills from senior Marta Machos pulled the Tigers to within one, 18-17. Montana would maintain its lead and capture the set 25-22, tying the match at 2-2. Towson trailed 11-7 in the second set before rallying to tie the set at 14-14 on a Montana error. However, Paige Branstiter had back-to-back kills to secure the 16-14 win and a victory in the match for Montana.
Buck and Kirven posted “double-doubles” in the match to lead the Tigers. Buck had 14 kills and 11 digs while Kirven finished with 60 assists and 14 digs. Junior Dayane Van Ass led the team with 15 kills while McCreary had 14 kills and five blocks. Sekerak led all players with 23 digs in the match while fellow sophomore Aniris Fernandez contributed 12 digs and five service aces.
Kayla Reno led Montana with 21 kills and 11 digs in the contest.
Towson returns to action next weekend at the 49er Invitational hosted by Charlotte. The Tigers will face UNC Asheville in the opener on Friday, Sept. 14 at 4:30 p.m.