(Photo courtesy MSU Billings)

(MSUB Athletics release)

BILLINGS – The Montana State University Billings volleyball team (6-12, 2-7 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) was out done by the Central Washington (13-5, 8-2 GNAC) defense on Thursday night as the Yellowjackets lost in three sets 25-21, 25-13, 25-14 in Alterowitz Gym. The ‘Jacket offense hit .018 in the match while the Wildcats connected on .313 percent of their attacks while posting 10 blocks as a team.

“We just couldn’t get going tonight,” coach Casey Williams said after the game. “Our offense struggled against a tough Central Washington defense. We look forward to regrouping and preparing to host a tough Northwest Nazarene team on Saturday.”

No MSUB attacker reached double digit kills in the match, it is only the fourth time this season that every ‘Jacket was held below 10 kills. Maddi Vigil led the team with nine kills and added eight digs while Bayli Monck was second on the team with six kills. The CWU defense made MSUB get creative as the Yellowjackets had six players record multiple kills on the night. Miranda McConnell’s three kills came on five attempts as the junior hit .400 on the night. Setter Alexa Smythe tallied 23 assists and led the team with a .571 hitting percentage with her four kills on seven attempts.

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Izela Alvarez led the team with 12 digs and had two service aces to match sophomore Taylor Sherman’s total on the night. Sherman also contributed six digs in the match. Hali Ehresmann had a solo block and a block assist along with Monck in the third set but the Wildcat attack found their spots for most of the match.

The Wildcats had a big performance from Shelby Mauritson who recorded 18 kills and five block-assists on the night. Sabrina Wheelhouse also had five block-assists and hit .400 on her six kills in the match. The CWU attack was steady throughout the match recording only 11 errors compared to the ‘Jackets 26.

MSUB had its best showing in the first set though they never gained a lead. After starting down three the ‘Jackets kept the set close thanks to five kills by Monck and 13 assists from Smythe. Alvarez had five digs in the set followed by Vigil with four. However the Wildcats built a seven point lead at the 18-11 mark and would hold off a late MSUB rally.

In the final two sets the ‘Jackets had short-lived leads to start the set before CWU took over. The MSUB offense hit a negative percentage in both the second and third set while the Central offense kept rolling as the defense recorded eight of their 10 blocks.

UP NEXT: the Yellowjackets will play again on Saturday as they host the No. 10 Northwest Nazarene Crusaders (16-1, 8-1) at 7 p.m. The match can be watched via the MSUB Stretch Internet Portal.