(Editor’s note: Montana State athletics release)
SEATTLE, Wash. — Montana State found the momentum it was looking for heading into next week’s Big Sky Conference opener, going undefeated at the Seattle U Classic with a 25-22, 18-25, 25-18, 25-23 victory over the Redhawks to close out tournament play on Saturday afternoon in Redhawk Center.
Montana State (5-6) has captured three of its last four matches and were the first Big Sky Conference team to defeat Seattle U as Weber State, Sacramento State and Idaho State all fell to the Redhawks.
Leading 23-22 in the opening set, the Bobcats received back-to-back kills from junior transfer McKayla Landreth to take a 1-0 advantage. Seattle U (7-5) turned the table in the second stanza, outhitting the Bobcats .333 to .139.
“I’m really impressed with our team’s fight throughout the match,” said second-year head coach Daniel Jones. “It was a tight back and forth battle. In every moment, we maintained our composure, executed our defensive assignments and worked really hard on offense.”
The third set featured 11 ties and four lead changes. With the score tied at 17-all, the Bobcats rattled off seven unanswered points. The run was sparked by two kills via Evi Wilson and two blocks by Allie Lynch and Kelsie White. White finished the game with a kill.
The final game was also a back and forth affair. MSU pulled away from 23-all, scoring the final two points of the match on back-to-back kills from freshman Hailey Merkes. Wilson and sophomore outside hitter Hannah Scott also sparked MSU in the fourth set, combining for 10 kills and a .474 attack mark.
“I’m proud of our effort,” Jones said. “We had great focus throughout the entire weekend. Seattle is a good team who is well coached. I’m really happy for our team to taste this success and have this foundation to build from.”
Scott paced Montana State with a match-high 15 kills, while Landreth added a season-best 13 kills and Wilson 11. Lynch dished out 37 assists and added 11 digs for her fourth double-double.
Defensively, junior libero Allyssa Rizzo registered a match-high 24 digs. The Crestwood, Ill., product has posted eight matches with 20 or more saves. Rizzo also pitched in a match-high four aces. White guided the Bobcats at the net with a match-high six blocks.
For their efforts, Wilson and Rizzo were named to the all-tournament team.
Seattle U was led by Maja Stojanovic with 12 kills and a .308 attack mark.
MSU will host Portland State on Thursday night in Shroyer Gym in both its home and Big Sky Conference opener.