(Editor's note: MSUB media release)
For the first time since 2008, the Montana State University Billings volleyball team swept Rocky Mountain College in a convincing 3-0 (25-13, 25-15, 25-13) win on Tuesday night.
"I thought we did a good job of keeping control of the match the entire time," MSUB head coach Casey Williams said. "I was happy with our effort, and I thought it was a good stepping stone for us to get ready for Seattle Pacific on Saturday."
MSUB (7-8, 3-3 Great Northwest Athletic Conference) outplayed Rocky (10-12, 2-1 Frontier Conference) in every facet of the game – ranging from holding Rocky to a paltry -.017 hitting, to outperforming Rocky at the service line, to having Skylar Reed and Bayli Monck combine for nearly more kills (22) than Rocky had as an entire team (25). All told, the Yellowjackets only trailed once early in the second set.
"Everybody was on tonight," Sophomore setter Hannah Hashbarger said. "It was so easy to throw to everyone, and [Rocky's] block didn't know where to go because anyone could hit at any given time."
MSUB kicked off the first set with an 8-1 run that included two kills from Bayli Monck and two service aces from Makayla Baca. The Yellowjacket defense had an answer for nearly everything the Battlin' Bears threw at them; quick reflexes at the net from Jahsita Fa'ali'i and Skylar Reed early in the first set eventually led to more MSUB points as the lead ballooned to 9-3.
Although Rocky rattled off a 4-0 run to pull within two, the 'Jackets responded with a 4-0 run, then a 5-0 run bolstered by swings from Reed, Monck and Joelle Mahowald. The game quickly got out of hand for the visitors, as MSUB had a commanding 20-9 lead late in the first set off of a rocket of a kill from Reed, who has had a history of rising to the occasion in Rimrock Rivalry games.
"Skylar was feeling it," Williams said of Reed's performance. "Any time she comes up to me and says she's feeling bouncy, I know it's going to be a good day for her. And today was one of those days. I'm happy with what she brought tonight; she did her job and then some."
Reed's fourth kill of the set gave MSUB a 22-12 lead, then kills from Hannah Hayden, Fa'ali'i and freshman Christine Funk's first service ace of the night helped MSUB take set one in a commanding 25-13 fashion.
The second set was the closest of the night, but not for a considerable amount of time. Rocky took a 5-4 lead but two Battlin' Bears miscues and a kill from Mahowald gave MSUB the lead for good. From there, everything came up Yellowjackets. With a 9-8 lead, Hannah Hashbarger seamed a cross-court pass to a waiting Reed, who dropped the hammer for her fifth kill of the night. Two points later, Hashbarger found Reed again to make the score 11-9, which sparked a 4-0 run.
Trying to find an answer, Rocky turned to its bench often midway through the second set with mixed results; the Battlin' Bears battled back to make the score 16-14, yet Mahowald took over. The senior faked left, then found a tight angle on the right side for the first end of back-to-back kills that gave MSUB a 18-14 lead, then she capped off the Yellowjackets' run with another kill to make things 21-14, MSUB. Rocky only managed one more point from there on out, as MSUB closed out the set on a 4-0 run.
With the game fully in control, MSUB rattled off five straight points with Hashbarger behind the service line to open set three. Her serves make RMC's back row scramble, then Monck took advantage of a disorganized defense for back-to-back kills that gave MSUB a 5-0 lead. The Battlin' Bears strung together consecutive points only three times in the third; blocks from Fa'ali'i and Hayden put the brakes on Rocky's runs early in the set, then Mahowald took over once more. In a play that encapsulated the night, Mahowald barely left the floor to swat away a ball that Rocky's setter sent over the net. Before Rocky could react, MSUB doubled them up 15-7 off another ace from Fa'ali'i.
Rocky strung together consecutive points to pull within six, but MSUB went on a 5-0 run capped off by Mahowald's quick recovery that Hashbarger corralled in to set up Hayden in the far right corner for a kill. A pair of kills from Reed, one more from Monck and Hashbarger faking out all six Rocky defenders on match point sealed the deal for MSUB.
THE BUZZ: Hannah Hashbarger was the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game for her 31 assists, eight digs and for putting the Battlin' Bears to rest with her lone kill of the night on match point…MSUB moves to 41-24 all-time against its crosstown rivals, including a 29-9 record at home.
UP NEXT: MSUB returns to Great Northwest Athletic Conference play by hosting Seattle Pacific on Saturday at 1 p.m. Links to live stats and video can be found on msubsports.com.