(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – The Battlin’ Bears (19-9, 7-2 Frontier Conference) swept the season series with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-21) win over the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets (6-16, 2-10 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) on Tuesday night. The Yellowjackets hosted their annual Pink Night in partnership with St. Vincent Healthcare on Tuesday as the team greeted breast cancer survivors before taking the court clad in pink uniforms.
Freshman libero Izela Alvarez had another strong night in the Yellojacket’s back row as she tallied 37 digs moving her to the ninth highest single season total in program history with 422 this year. It was her second highest single-game total this season as she racked up 38 digs in her collegiate debut against Minnesota State University Moorhead. Alvarez has the opportunity to soar up the list this weekend as she is only 18 digs short of the second most digs in a single season.
“She’s just done well for us all year and she is picking up balls that we don’t expect her to pick up and putting them right where we need them,” head coach Casey Williams said of the libero. “Her effort has been phenomenal and we’re excited for her future with the program.”
Maddi Vigil was the ‘Jackets leading attacker for the 11th consecutive game but only tallied 8 kills in the match. MSUB used both setters on the night with Alexa Smythe getting 17 assists and Kylee Clarke adding 13. Bayli Monck, Miranda McConnell and Hali Ehresmann all had five kills in the match.
Monck led the team with four block assists on the night while middle blockers Ehresmann and McConnell each collected three to contribute to the MSUB total of six. Vigil tallied 13 digs and Taylor Sherman had eight to go along with her three kills.
The teams played close throughout night with the first set setting the tone with three ties. Rocky finished the set with their largest lead of the opening frame 25-20. The Yellowjacket defense was led by Alvarez’s 13 digs in the first game and two blocks. Vigil, Monck, Taylor and McConnell each recorded two kills in the set but the offense only hit .100. RMC combined six kills from Hailey Copinga and four from Sydney Matheny to the MSUB output and win the set.
Five ties and three lead changes made the second set the tightest battle of the night between the Billings rivals as momentum swung back-and-forth. With the Yellowjackets trailing by one at 17-16 the Battlin’ Bears made an 8-2 run to run away with the set. The MSUB attack was stifled, recording a .020 hitting percentage. Rocky’s offense was also on their heels as they recorded a .132 hitting percentage in the second set, their worst of the match.
After the set-break the Yellowjackets had new life as they took the first point off of an attack error and continued to hold the lead until they were up 15-8. Down by seven, Rocky called a timeout that spurred a 10-0 run stunning the ‘Jackets. MSUB couldn’t get the lead back as they were topped by Rocky in three sets for the second time this season.
UP NEXT: MSUB continues GNAC play on the road with matches at Saint Martin’s (8-13, 3-10 GNAC) and Seattle Pacific (11-10, 6-6 GNAC) this Thursday and Saturday at 7 p.m. Pacific time. The ‘Jackets swept Saint Martin’s in the first match of the season while Seattle Pacific took a five-set win from MSUB in Alterowitz Gym earlier this season.