(Editor’s note: Montana State University press release)
BOZEMAN – Montana State middle blocker Kelsie White fed off the energy of the sold-out crowd of 1,500 on Tuesday night in Shroyer Gym posting 11 kills, a .579 attack mark and six blocks to lift the Bobcats to a straight set 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-17) victory over Montana to give MSU a 57-56 advantage in the all-time series between the intra-state rivals.
White, a sophomore from Layton, Utah, helped Montana State (10-12, 5-6) jump out to an early 13-7 lead after combining with Serena Caspersen on a block. MSU expanded its margin to 19-11 on another block by Caspersen and took the opening set on a kill via Evi Wilson.
White again played a major role in the second stanza. Trailing Montana (8-15, 5-6) 23-20 in the waning moments of the set, the Bobcats rattled off five straight points to take a 2-0 advantage in the match. White’s kill at 24-23 gave MSU the momentum it needed to close out the set.
“The girls don’t lack for belief,” said MSU head coach Daniel Jones. “In those moments, volleyball is such a momentum game, a swing game, that if you lack belief in those moments, you’re going to find yourself in trouble. The point we’re getting to is the girls believe in each other, they believe in their training and they believe in the game plan and they’re going out and executing it.”
In the final frame, the Bobcats pulled away from six-all with three consecutive points and never let Grizzlies get any closer. Sophomore Hannah Scott put an exclamation mark on the match for the Bobcats, blocking UM’s Mykaela Hammer to give MSU the sweep.
“Anytime we beat the Griz it’s a sweet victory,” Jones said. “And, to do it in front of our sold-out crowd, in three, it gives me chills. I can’t think of much better.”
Aside from White’s outstanding performance, Wilson also posted a team-high 11 kills, while hitting .450 from the field. Playing without senior outside hitter Natalie Passeck, a pair of Bobcat freshmen answered the call on the pins as Caspersen and Hailey Merkes combined for 13 kills, a .219 attack mark and seven blocks.
Setter Carina Lehto finished with 34 assists, six digs and two blocks, while libero Allyssa Rizzo paced all players with 13 digs.
Montana was led by Hammer with 18 kills, while Cassie Laramee added 11.
Montana State will host Northern Colorado on Friday at 6 p.m. in Shroyer Gym.