(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS - Gaining momentum early on Tuesday night at the Fortin Center, the Rocky Mountain College volleyball team defeated Montana State University Billings in four sets, 25-20, 25-21, 15-25, 25-18.
The Yellowjackets (0-1) did well to fight back for a sound victory in the third set, but by then the Bears had built a 2-0 lead and were able to claim the win with a fourth-set triumph.
“For our second match we had some really good things happen on our side, but in the end it wasn’t enough to overcome a scrappy rocky defense,” said MSUB head coach Casey Williams. “We passed really well, it just didn’t translate to a big offensive attack.”
Joelle Mahowald led the Yellowjackets with 15 kills on 28 attempts in the match, hitting at a mark of .357. Maddi Vigil chipped in a 13-kill, 16-dig double-double, and Bayli Monck finished with a 12-kill, 12-dig double-double to lead the team on a night where the MSUB offense posted a hitting percentage of .159.
Kyra Oakland led all players with 16 kills in the match, and Weiying Wu also reached double digits with 10. RMC’s Natalie Hilderman had 42 assists, 13 digs, and four kills and was the home team’s most effective player in leading the offense to a .205 attack percentage.
A back-and-forth opening set stayed relatively even until the Battlin’ Bears won 4 of 5 points midway through to take a 17-13 lead. The ‘Jackets won the next three points to cut into the deficit, but could not get over the hump as three attack errors assisted RMC in winning the final five points to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
The second frame unfolded in a similar manner, with kills from Vigil and Hannah Hayden helping the ‘Jackets keep things even early at 10-10. The Bears once again used a mid-set push to open up a five-point advantage, as Monique Rodriguez had a pair of kills to help RMC win 6 of 7 points and take a 20-15 lead. MSUB got as close as 22-20 on a service ace from Kennedy Juranek, but a kill from Oakland sandwiched by kills from Wu helped the Bears emerge 25-21.
MSUB righted the ship in the third set thanks in large part to Mahowald, who had three straight kills early on to open up MSUB’s largest lead of the night at 12-3. The Bears never got within five points during the third frame, as MSUB stayed alive and forced a fourth set with the most convincing win of the evening at 25-15.
Just as MSUB started the third set on a strong run however, the Bears did the same in the fourth as they built a 6-0 advantage and never looked back in sealing the win. Back-to-back kills from Vigil got the early score down to 10-7 in favor of RMC, but that proved to be as close as MSUB could get down the stretch.
Juranek led the Yellowjackets with 23 digs while chipping in a pair of service aces and wearing the libero jersey for three sets. Hannah Hashbarger led all players with 50 assists while adding 10 digs, and Hayden finished with six kills and a pair of solo blocks for MSUB. Junior Skylar Reed also approached double figures with nine kills, while adding five digs on the evening.
“We had some players step up and play great tonight, and Kennedy and Joelle both had great matches,” Williams said. “I was proud of the way we fought, especially in the third set to bounce back.”
The Battlin’ Bears improved to 10-1 overall on the season with their sixth straight victory.