MISSOULA — There's another Cat-Griz matchup on the docket this week. Montana and Montana State will meet on the volleyball court Wednesday at the Big Sky Conference tournament in Greeley, Colo.
The Bobcats (19-7 overall) enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed after compiling a 12-4 conference record. They won their final five matches of the regular season to record the most single-season conference wins in program history. MSU tied with Northern Colorado in the final conference standings, which was its highest finish in the 36-year history of the conference.
The Bobcats defeated regular-season Big Sky champion Sacramento State and Portland State last weekend. Kira Thomsen posted 45 kills in the wins en route to Big Sky Conference offensive player of the week honors. Thomsen leads the Big Sky with 4.17 kills per set this season.
"What a nice season for this team," said MSU head coach Matt Houk. "But they know we aren't done yet. When you take a breath and look at it through a very rational lens, what a nice accomplishment by this group.
"To have the most wins in Big Sky play in school history and to have the most wins in a season since 2004, and to have a shot at the title going into the last match, we did what we could do. We have a lot to be proud of, but we've also got some work to do."
The Cats will play rival Montana in a first-round match at the Big Sky tournament at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The teams split during the regular season.
The Griz (11-17 overall) are the No. 6 seed in the bracket after posting a 7-9 conference record. They closed the regular season last week by sweeping Portland State and losing a five-set match to Sacramento State.
"I'm extremely proud," UM head coach Allison Lawrence said. "I think there are parts of our game or breakdowns that we can tease out that will be good points of emphasis before our first match at the tournament. But extremely proud of how we competed and just the level of volleyball that we're playing right now."
The Big Sky Conference volleyball tournament tips off Wednesday with four first-round matches. The semifinals are Thursday, and the championship is Friday. All matches will stream live on ESPN+. The full tournament schedule is below.
2023 Big Sky Volleyball Championship
Nov. 22-24 at Greeley, Colorado
Wednesday, Nov. 22
Match 1: No. 4 Weber State vs. No. 5 Portland State, 10 a.m.
Match 2: No. 1 Sacramento State vs. No. 8 Idaho State, 1 p.m.
Match 3: No. 3 Montana State vs. No. 6 Montana, 4 p.m.
Match 4: No. 2 Northern Colorado vs. No. 7 Eastern Washington, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 23
Match 5: Winner of Match 1 vs. Winner of Match 2, 4 p.m.
Match 6: Winner of Match 3 vs. Winner of Match 4, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 24
Championship: Winner of Match 5 vs Winner of Match 6, 7 p.m.