(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
BOZEMAN – For the Montana State volleyball team the 23rd time was the charm. The Bobcats snapped a 22-match losing streak to Portland State handing the Vikings a 25-12, 17-25, 23-25, 26-24, 15-12 setback on Thursday night in front of 1,132 fans in Shroyer Gym.
Montana State’s last win over Portland State came on Nov. 12, 2004.
“Wow,” said MSU head coach Daniel Jones. “I’ll make sure the girls know that.”
“It’s exciting to see the team playing with each other and for each other,” Jones added. “It’s exciting to see the effort and the determination to get over the line, and that we’re not going to crumble. It was really nice to get that pressure from Portland State and be able to push back. I’m really thrilled for the team.”
Montana State (6-6, 1-0 jumped out to a 1-0 advantage cruising to an opening set win out-hitting Portland State (1-12, 0-1) .303 to .067. Portland State rallied in the second set getting out to an early 11-3 margin and never looking back.
The Vikings held the momentum in the third frame fighting back from a 21-16 deficit to close out the set on a 9-2 run.
MSU trailed 22-20 in the waning moments of the fourth set, before rattling off a 3-1 run to even the score at 23-all on a kill by Hannah Scott. The two teams traded points before the Bobcats ended the game on back-to-back kills by Scott and Evi Wilson.
In the deciding frame, Montana State got out to an 8-3 advantage at the switch and took an 11-7 lead as Wilson bounced a kill off the head of a Viking blocker. A kill by Natalie Passeck put MSU up 12-8, before PSU closed to within 12-10 on a kill by Jenna Mullen. MSU closed out the match on Wilson’s 19th kill of the match.
Wilson, a product of Vancouver, Wash., and the reigning Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week, posted five kills and one block in the fifth set to guide the Bobcats to its first victory in a league opener in five years.
“Evi is someone who plays with a lot of passion, energy and focus,” Jones said. “When she’s on there’s not many better in the conference. To go out and put the run on in the fifth is a testament to the work she’s putting in and not resting on her laurels.”
Wilson guided MSU with 19 kills, while Scott and Passeck added 15 and 12, respectively. Sophomore setter Allie Lynch dished out 29 assists in the first three sets, before transfer Carina Lehto came off the bench to add 23 assists, seven digs and three blocks in the final three frames.
“I’m really impressed with our setters,” Jones said. “Allie’s done a fantastic job and Carina, coming in and doing what she did under pressure, is just what we needed. She definitely flipped the tide and came in with a belief that she was the person for the job.”
Defensively, the Bobcats were paced by Allyssa Rizzo who posted a career-high 34 digs. Also in double-digit saves were Passeck 12 and Scott 11. Junior transfer McKayla Landreth led all players with seven blocks.
MSU will host Sacramento State on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Shroyer Gym.