HELENA — The stage is set. Providence and Carroll will play for a Frontier Conference Tournament Championship on Saturday. Carroll, as the No. 3 seed for the tournament, downed No. 2 Montana Tech 3-1 (25-18, 17-25, 26-24, 25-21) to join the Argos in the title match. Carroll last won a tournament championship in 2016.
In a rematch of last season’s Frontier Conference Tournament Championship game, Providence matched the result, but did itself a set better this time around, beating Rocky Mountain College 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-13) to secure a berth in the title game on Saturday. It will be Providence’s fourth-straight appearance in the championship contest as the program is looking for its fourth consecutive league title.
Carroll and Providence are scheduled to play at 7 p.m. on Saturday from the PE Center on the campus of Carroll College in Helena.
The winner earns an automatic bid to the NAIA Women’s National Volleyball Championship Tournament.
Carroll 3, Montana Tech 1
Taelyr Krantz got the match-ending kill and Carroll got the win over Tech after tightly-contested third and fourth sets. Coming into the match, which the Saints needed to keep their season alive, Carroll had won just two sets in three previous matches against Tech this season. In the first three sets Friday, Carroll matched that total.
Carroll did not lead the third set until the scoreboard read 25-24. With the match tied at 1-1, and down 20-24, the Saints reeled off six-straight points to take the third set 26-24.
Carroll led the fourth set 20-17, staved off a Tech run, and scored four of the match’s last five points to beat the Orediggers.
Katherine McEuen paced Carroll with 14 kills and finished with a hitting percentage of .361. Lexie Gleasman and Krantz combined for 24 kills and nine digs. Julia Carr racked up a team-high 22 digs, while Hannah Schweikert amassed 30 assists and 12 digs in the win.
Providence 3, Rocky Mountain College 0
Sadie Lott (16) and Jenna Thorne (10) each had double-digit kills for Providence, while Cydney Finberg-Roberts paced the team with 38 assists. Sacha Legros and Taylor Christensen combined for 43 of Providence’s 65 digs.
Providence out-hit Rocky Mountain .300 to .111 and doubled the Battlin’ Bears’ aces 6-3.
Providence is now one win away from returning to the NAIA Women’s National Volleyball Championship Tournament. Providence beat Viterbo last season before falling to Jamestown in pool play.
Providence is ranked No. 5 in the NAIA top-25 coaches poll and has not lost a match since Sept. 10, a span of 17 contests.
Rocky Mountain entered the Frontier tournament as the No. 5 seed this season and looked like it might steal the second set from Providence. Down 14-13, Providence reeled off a 7-1 second-set scoring run to gain control.
Providence then used a 9-1 run to pull away from Rocky Mountain late in the third set and claim victory.
First Round Matches
Rocky Mountain College 3, Montana State Northern 1
The Battlin’ Bears dropped the first set 27-25, but rallied to win the next three (25-21, 25-17, 25-21) to down the Lights.
Bella Bryan (20), Makenna Bushman (13), Morgan Allen (13) and Weiying Wu (11) all had double-digit kills and the Battlin’ Bears out-hit Northern .279 to .222.
Ayla Embry added 40 digs in the win and Blythe Sealey contributed 54 of Rocky Mountain’s 74 assists.
Rocky Mountain will now turn its sights to knocking off Providence -- the defending tournament champion. Providence entered this year’s tournament on a 16-match winning streak and ranked No. 5 in the NAIA top-25 coaches poll. Providence has not lost a match since Sept. 10 and ran the table in regular-season Frontier play, going 10-0.
Carroll 3, Montana Western 1
The Saints stumbled in the second set, but otherwise handled the Bulldogs in the first round Friday afternoon. Carroll won 25-12, 17-25, 25-15, 25-23 to set up a semi final duel with the rival Orediggers on Friday night.
Taelyr Krantz picked up 13 kills and four blocks in the win, as five different Saints chipped in at least seven kills. Hannah Schweikert (22) and Kylie Kackman (18) combined for 40 assists and 30 digs. Julia Carr added a team-high 27 digs.