(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – The Montana State University Billings volleyball team couldn’t have dreamt up a better senior day for Marissa Logozzo, Joelle Mahowald and Bayli Monck.
On an emotional senior day, the Yellowjackets rallied back and rattled off three-straight victorious sets – including winning a marathon third set – to beat Simon Fraser 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 29-27, 25-19) on Saturday in Alterowitz Gym.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to send our seniors out,” MSUB head coach Casey Williams said. “They have put so much heart into this program, and to be able to finish their careers at home like that is awesome. We fought so hard and we were so gritty against a tough SFU team, and I am so proud of them.”
The win brought MSUB (11-15, 6-10 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) to a 9-5 record at home, and Simon Fraser dropped to 17-7 (11-6 GNAC). It also snapped MSUB’s 14-game losing streak against the NCAA’s only Canadian team; the last time the ‘Jackets beat Simon Fraser was back on Sept. 28, 2013.
Seniors Bayli Monck and Joelle Mahowald led the ‘Jackets with 21 and 11 kills, respectively, adding to the storybook finish for the duo. Junior Skylar Reed’s 10 kills, including five in MSUB’s hard-fought third-set win, rounded out the offense for MSUB, which hit .262 as a team – good for the group’s third-best in GNAC play this season.
“It felt like we had nothing to lose and we wanted to win for each other,” Monck said. “It felt very cohesive and it felt like we were playing for one another. We just made today’s game fun: we didn’t complicate things, we didn’t get down on ourselves and it wasn’t negative. This gym was a very positive atmosphere and it was a really fun game to play.”
Logozzo echoed her teammate’s sentiment, commending the atmosphere in Alterowitz Gym.
“The energy in the gym was awesome and I was so glad we got to go out like that,” Logozzo said. “Any day I get to be able to play with Bayli and Joelle is literally the best day ever and I’m so excited going into the next series, being able to finish strong with them.”
Fittingly, Marissa Logozzo dug out a SFU swing that Hannah Hashbarger set up for Bayli Monck to give MSUB the point to open the day. Joelle Mahowald got in on the action to tie the first set at five, then kills from Skylar Reed and Bayli Monck helped MSUB keep pace with SFU until the visitors finally pulled ahead 15-9. But MSUB kept chipping away, eventually pulling within two points on two occasions: first with a block from Hannahs Hayden and Hashbarger, then by Hannah Hayden’s kill to make the score 19-17, SFU. Yet Simon Fraser would win the first set 25-19.
The second set was all ‘Jackets. With Reed back to serve, the ‘Jackets took off on an 8-1 run to open the set – including four kills from Monck during that span. Two more from Tiffany Chandler and a block out of bounds with Chandler back to serve gave MSUB a 12-4 lead.
Simon Fraser, however, would come back in the second with an 11-1 run – stopped only by a kill from Reed – to take a 15-13 lead. A 4-0 run in response from MSUB would be the difference from that point forward: Hannah Hayden’s emphatic slam at the front of the net, a kill and an ace from Monck, then Logozzo’s ace at set point gave MSUB a 25-19 second-set win.
“We all have that grit – we’ve seen it before – and it was super cool to see us all decide to turn that on tonight and play for a bigger purpose,” Mahowald said. “We knew that it was our last time in the gym for a lot of us this year, and we came out with a lot of high energy knowing we could take this game.”
The third set was the difference-maker. Although MSUB played from behind early, the Yellowjackets dug themselves out of an early hole and tied it at five-all with Monck’s 83rd career service ace, which SFU’s back row couldn’t quite track down. Mahowald rocketed a ball off a tight angle to get the crowd going at 8-7, SFU, then on two points later, Reed finished off a point that was kept alive by back-to-back blocks from Hayden.
Simon Fraser kept its one-point lead as both teams sided out throughout the middle third of the set. The visitors had its largest lead at 22-16, but then the ‘Jackets stormed back. Reed’s swing on the far left side bounced off a Simon Fraser player’s fingertips and out of bounds, then Hayden’s block on the left side pulled MSUB within four, 22-18. Later, back-to-back kills from Mahowald made the score 23-22, Simon Fraser before the visitors forced set point.
Then the magic happened.
Seniors Monck and Mahowald willed MSUB back into the set with consecutive kills to tie the game at 24. Chandler came through to give MSUB a 25-24 lead, but the work was far from finished. With neither team having timeouts to spare, both teams were liberal with their subs down the stretch, as neither team could string together two points in a row. A block from Mahowald at 27-26 seemed to give MSUB an edge, but SFU tied it at 27. This would become the final tie of the set. Reed earned a kill off SFU’s block, then Hayden and Hashbarger’s block gave MSUB a 29-27 win in set three, albeit after a suspenseful challenge from the officials, who eventually confirmed the call on the court.
Invigorated from their gutsy win, MSUB took an early 3-1 lead off another Monck kill to open the fourth. Chandler’s career-high ninth kill gave the Yellowjackets a 6-4 lead, but four-straight points from Simon Fraser put the visitors in the driver’s seat.
That would be the last time MSUB trailed.
Mahowald and Reed’s block on the next point kicked off a 5-0 run that put the Yellowjackets ahead for good. An ace from Mahowald tied the set at 8, then Hayden’s swing and an SFU error forced the visiting side to burn a timeout trailing 10-8. Out of the timeout, a SFU swing hit the antenna and MSUB’s run continued. Although both teams couldn’t string together more than two points back behind the service line, MSUB kept control of the match with kills from Reed, Hashbarger and nine errors from SFU in the fourth set alone. Mahowald, Reed and Hayden sparked a 3-0 run that gave MSUB a 21-16 lead late in the fourth, but Simon Fraser matched that with a 3-0 run of its own.
Clinging to a 21-19 lead, SFU sided out off a bad swing. Hashbarger went back to serve. On the next point, the sophomore setter found Monck for her 20th kill of the night to make the score 23-19, MSUB. Hashbarger did it all on the next point with an ace, bringing MSUB to match point.
The ‘Jackets went back-and-forth with SFU, with neither team connecting on their first swings. Finally, MSUB broke through. Logozzo dug up a SFU swing, Hashbarger corralled in the set and Monck elevated at the front of the net, hammering her 21st and final kill of the day past SFU’s block in order to seal the deal for MSUB.
“It was very emotional,” Monck said of the last kill. “I didn’t know [Hashbarger] would go outside with it, but I was ready for that moment. I told myself before the game that I didn’t want to get emotional during the game, and that [kill] started to hit me. It was very memorable.”
MSUB opens the final week of the season against Northwest Nazarene on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.