The Grizzlies' opening round matchup will feature the same team and same players as last weekend's regular season finale.
Montana coach Steve Ascher is hoping the outcome will be different this time around.
"I always appreciate rematches, especially if you come out on the losing side the first time," said Ascher, referencing his squad's loss last weekend.
Though a win wouldn't have done much to change the first round tournament matchups set to be played in Bozeman — with No. 2 Montana still playing No. 3 Northern Arizona — the strong finish to the season could have been a momentum booster, Ascher said. But the loss is no death certificate either.
Northern Arizona edged UM by one in a duel that saw many Grizzlies play below their potential. A number of players hit inconsistently, the coach said, and that won't likely happen again.
At the top singles position, senior Rebecca Bran got pounded 6-0, 6-0 by Edit Suhajda.
Suhajda is a senior with three All-Big Sky first team seasons to her credit. But she's not infallible, Ascher said, and has fallen at the hands of Montana players before.
"She caught [Rebecca] on a little of an off day," Ascher said. You see that score; that's a rarity. It's not something she's proud of."
"It was uncharacteristic of me I think," Bran said. "That's not how I've been playing."
Suhajda isn't the only player with experience for the 7–1 Lumberjacks. The team boasts four seniors with a combined 10 seasons at the Division I collegiate level. Orsi Golovics has posted the best record for the Jacks this season, going 13–8 from the No. 2 position, but came out on the losing end to Whitney Paluch in her last run-in with Montana.
Paluch will again combat Golovics at the second spot while pairing with Bran in the doubles competition, where the Griz have done much of their damage on the season. Bran and Paluch are 20–14 as the top doubles pairing and the team as a whole has posted a 61–41 record.
And though the duo dropped their match against NAU, the other Grizzly pairings narrowly knocked off their opponents to win the doubles point.
"After last weekend with it so close, when we get a chance again this weekend, we'll play our best," Bran said. "I know I've been preparing mentally all week.
"I think it's going to be a completely different outcome."
The winner of Saturday's contest will likely move on to face regular-season champ Sacramento State in the finals. Sac State (8–0) cruised to its 10th straight Big Sky title this season and will square off with Montana State (5–3) in the other first round match.