(PHOTO MSUB Athletics)

(MSUB Athletics release)

LACEY, Wash. – It was a great start to the weekend for the Montana State University Billings volleyball team (3-2) on Thursday as the Yellowjackets defeated the Point Loma Sea Lions (0-5), 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 26-24), at the DII West Region Volleyball Showcase hosted by Saint Martin’s.

The Yellowjackets got off to a great start as Bayli Monck earned the first kill of the match off of a Kylee Clarke assist in MSUB’s first possession. MSUB controlled the pace from the outset of the game and never allowed the Sea Lions to gain a lead in the 25-20 opening set.

“The team came out with a lot of confidence today,” head coach Casey Williams said.

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Freshman outside Maddi Vigil was attacking early and often with five kills in the first set while also contributing nine digs. She continued her pace as she recorded five kills in the second set and seven in the final set on her way to a team-leading 17 kills.

The second set was a back-and-forth affair as neither team built a lead larger than three-points. Tied at 17, Coach Williams took a timeout to stop a 3-0 run by the Sea Lions. The ‘Jackets responded as Miranda McConnell delivered a sharp drive through the center of the Point Loma defense to stop the run and put MSUB back on top. The set continued to have a series of ties and one-point leads before the Yellowjackets shut the door with four-point run highlighted by a Vigil service ace and a Hali Ehresmann kill to seal the 25-21 victory and a 2-0 lead.

In the final set the teams exchanged the lead six times as they fought through 13 ties. Point Loma built their largest lead in the middle of the set when they held a three-point advantage at 17-14. Following a 5-1 run by the ‘Jackets, the teams continued with a series of ties up to 24-points. The Yellowjackets capitalized on the comeback when a Vigil kill was followed by an attack error by the Sea Lions to seal the game.

“I am very proud of the way the team battled in the third set to come from behind,” Williams added. “I am looking forward to getting back out on the court tomorrow.”

MSUB finished with a hitting percentage of .232 while holding Point Loma to .117. Izela Alvarez led the team in digs, as she has in every game this season, and made crucial defensive saves down the stretch that allowed the ‘Jackets to seal the win. Taylor Sherman and McConnell contributed five and four kills respectively while Olympia, WA native Ehresmann had six kills with a .600 hitting percentage and three block-assists. Monck tallied 11 kills and three block-assists in the match.

THE BUZZ: Thursday marked the third-consecutive 3-0 win for the ‘Jackets this season after the team recorded only two such victories all of the 2016 season. Vigil is the only Yellowjacket to record 10 or more kills in each match this season and has led or tied for the team lead in kills in all three victories.

UP NEXT: The ‘Jackets will face Cal State, Dominguez Hills (3-1) tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. PST followed by Notre Dame De Namur (1-3) at 5:30 p.m. PST. The Toros and the Argonauts face each other on Thursday night. The ‘Jackets dropped a 3-1 decision to the Toros in last year’s showcase.

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