BILLINGS, Mont. – Tuesday will provide the opportunity for redemption as Montana State University Billings volleyball team (6-15, 2-10 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) will host Rocky Mountain College (18-9, 7-2 Frontier Conference) at 7 p.m. It is the second meeting this season for the Yellowjackets and Battlin’ Bears after RMC won the first match 3-0 at the Fortin Center.
The Yellowjackets will break out the pink uniforms for the match as MSUB and St. Vincent Healthcare present Pink Night. All entrants wearing pink will get free admission into the match as the ‘Jackets support the fight against cancer.
NUMBERS AND NOTES
FAMILIAR FOES: Tuesday will be the 58th meeting of the Billings institutions with MSUB holding a 37-20 advantage in the all-time series. The ‘Jackets hold a commanding 26-7 record when hosting the Bears while Rocky has a two-match 13-11 advantage as the home team in the series. The teams split last year’s contests with RMC winning a 3-1 match at the Fortin Center and MSUB earning a sweep in Alterowitz Gym. The ‘Jackets last loss as the home team in the series came back in 2002 when the Battlin’ Bears swept MSUB.
35 DIGS TO GO: Freshman libero Izela Alvarez has recorded 385 digs this season and is now 35 digs away from posting one of the top-10 most prolific defensive seasons in ‘Jackets history. Currently, Haley Wells and Kylee Cornelio are tied for the ninth most digs in a single season with 420. The second most digs recorded in a season is 440 recorded by Diane Vargo in 1998. Erin Compton holds the record with 577 digs in 2012. Alvarez has already recorded a top-10 single-game dig total when she tallied 38 in the first match of the season. She also record 35 digs in a match against the University of Alaska.
FOUR JACKETS REACH TRIPLE DIGITS: Middle blockers Miranda McConnell and Hali Ehresmann each eclipsed the 100 kill mark last weekend as McConnell accomplished the feat on Friday and Ehresmann followed on Saturday. A junior captain, McConnell is third on the team with 103 kills this season averaging 1.47 per set while Ehresmann is sitting at 100 with a 1.39 average. The pair join teammates Maddi Vigil and Bayli Monck who each have three figure kill counts this season. Vigil is the only MSUB attacker to surpass the 200 kill mark this season.
CLARKE AND SMYTHE SET THE TONE: Over the weekend Alexa Smythe played seven sets to reach 39 sets played this season and become eligible for the GNAC leaderboards joining fellow setter Kylee Clarke. Now, the ‘Jackets have two of the top-10 assists per set leaders in the conference in the pair of freshmen. Clarke continues to be fifth in the conference with a 9.29 average and Smythe ranks eighth with 7.64 digs per set. MSUB is the only team with two setters in the top-10 for the category.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN COLLEGE BATTLIN’ BEARS: The Battlin’ Bears are currently ranked No. 21 in the NAIA coach’s poll and defeated No. 1 Viterbo University 3-2 at the Grand View Tournament in Iowa.
Rocky Mountain coming off of their second conference loss of the season after falling in five sets to the University of Providence on Saturday night in Great Falls, Mont. Their other Frontier Conference loss was also on the road when they were defeated 3-1 in Butte against Montana Tech.
The Bear’s attack is led by Olivia L’Ami who averages 3.2 kills per set. Sydney Matheny leads RMC and ranks 27th in NAIA with a .327 hitting percentage. Matheny also leads the team in blocks, averaging one per set. Holland Fergurson does most of the work on the back line with a 5.3 digs per set average ranking 28th in NAIA.
Laurie Kelly is in her 10th season at Rocky. The Bears made their fifth trip in six season to the NAIA tournament in 2016. RMC is the reigning three-time champion in the Frontier Conference but currently rank second behind Montana Tech.