(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
BOZEMAN – Montana State went toe-to-toe with Idaho, the preseason favorite to win the Big Sky Conference, before falling to the Vandals 22-25, 25-21, 25-22, 30-28 on Thursday night in front of 1,233 fans in Shroyer Gym.
Idaho (11-8, 5-2) fought off four set points in the fourth frame to take the match. Montana State (7-11, 2-5) rallied from a 21-16 deficit behind the serving of Allyssa Rizzo and tied the game at 24-all following a block by Evi Wilson and Susanna Sovde. MSU then served the first of four set points following a Kelsie White ace, but UI closed out the match on back-to-back kills from Nikki Ball and Sarah Straw.
“It was a great volleyball match,” said MSU head coach Daniel Jones. “We didn’t back down at any point and we never quit. And, that’s something we can build on.”
The Bobcats opened the match in typical first set fashion. MSU got off to a 14-10 lead following a Vandal hitting miscue. The Bobcats held the margin before taking the frame after another UI hitting error.
“It was nice to get off to a good start,” Jones said. “I thought our kids executed the game plan at a high level. Idaho did the things that make them hard to stop, but I thought our serving kept them out of system at times.”
Idaho pulled away from 14-all in the second set with a 7-1 run, before MSU clawed back to get to within 22-20 on kill by Natalie Passeck. The Vandals evened the match on a 3-1 run highlighted by a Sharp kill.
The Vandals used a big 7-0 run in the third set to build a 22-16 advantage, but again, the Bobcats battled back to within 24-22 on a Sharp hitting error. UI eventually won the set on a MSU service error.
“It was a phenomenal crowd and I thought we got great contributions from our kids on the floor and the kids on the bench,” Jones said.
Hannah Scott paced MSU with 14 kills, while White and Passeck added 11 and ten, respectively. Carina Lehto dished out 39 assists and added 12 digs for her third double-double of the season. Rizzo led MSU in the backrow with a match-high 26 digs. Passeck notched her fifth double-double adding 11 saves.
Sharp paced Idaho with a match-high 18 kills.
The Bobcats will host Eastern Washington on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Shroyer Gym.