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When Mykaela Hammer committed to play volleyball at Montana, she was expecting to play under head coach Jerry Wagner, the man who had recruited her.

She redshirted her first season in Missoula and spent her next two seasons playing under coach Brian Doyon. The next two have been under Allison Lawrence.

"Rather than slow down or run away when things got tough – and they got really tough – she dug her heels in and committed," Lawrence said. "She worked on herself, her leadership, her physicality and her game. She didn't run away. She ran toward the challenge."

The persistence and dedication became even more rewarding on Tuesday, when Hammer was named to the all-Big Sky Conference first team, a 12-member team selected by the league's head coaches.

"I feel lucky and grateful to receive this honor," Hammer said. "Even after everything we went through, I never wanted to leave. It never crossed my mind, because this is where I wanted to be, and now it makes it even more special seeing where we've gotten to here at Montana."

Hammer's numbers speak for themselves. Not only does she lead the Griz offense, but her 3.78 kills-per-set average ranks fifth in the entire conference.

She's led the team in kills 18 times this season, including a career-high 23 in a come-from-behind win over Sacramento State, a team that enters this week's conference tournament as a top-four seed. The six-rotation player does it all for the Griz, ranking second on the team for digs, second for blocks and fourth for service aces.

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