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MSU Billings, Rocky Mountain College ‘Take 2’ Tuesday

Posted at 2:28 PM, Oct 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-23 16:28:07-04

(MSUB Athletics release)

BILLINGS – MSUB and Rocky square off Tuesday for the second time this season in volleyball. The match is set for 7 p.m. at Alterowitz Gymnasium.

The two sides sparred in front of a packed Fortin Center on September 18 with Rocky edging MSUB 3-2 in the first battle for Billings supremacy. Tuesday represents a chance at redemption for Montana State Billings.

On Thursday night, the Yellowjackets defeated Saint Martin’s 3-1. Maddi Vigil recorded 18 kills and 11 digs in the effort. Then on Saturday, MSUB bested Seattle Pacific in five sets 3-2. Miranda McConnell put up a career high 10 total blocks and Izela Alvarez made 19 digs.

The Yellowjackets will break out the pink uniforms for Tuesday night’s match as MSUB and St. Vincent Healthcare present Pink Night. All entrants wearing pink will get free admission into the match as the ‘Jackets support the fight against cancer. MSUB volleyball will also have a 50/50 raffle with proceeds being donated to the Eva project, which provides free digital mammograms to women over age 40 that are uninsured or under-insured.

Live video and statistics will be available for all MSUB home matches and all GNAC road contests throughout the 2017 season, through MSUB’s Stretch Internet portal. For tickets call the MSUB Athletics Department or purchase at the door on game night.

‘VIGIL-ANTY: Maddi Vigil has been taking the offense into her own hands this season and leads the ‘Jackets with 239 kills. She has started all 93 sets and has 10 double-doubles, the most recent of which came on Thursday in four sets against Saint Martin’s. Vigil hit .375 with 18 kills and 11 digs and added three service aces along with three blocks.

Vigil made 330 kills in her freshman campaign and will need to average a shade over 13 kills per match the rest of the way to beat last year’s mark.

MCCONNELL EYES MSUB RECORD BOOK: Senior Miranda McConnell has been a steady presence in the Montana State Billings lineup since her freshman season in 2015. Entering Tuesday night, she had 380 career sets played, good for 10th place all-time for the ‘Jackets. The record holder for career sets played is Gina Langer, who played 462 sets from 1996-99.

ALVAREZ DIGS IT: After setting an MSUB single season record for digs with 622 last year, Alvarez has added 418 in 2018 for a two year total of 1,040. Already, she stands eighth in career digs for the Yellowjackets with seven matches to play in her sophomore season. Although Alvarez is unlikely to break her own single season record from a year ago, she needs just two more digs to crack the top ten and has a chance to become the only player in program history to make the list twice.

BY THE NUMBERS: Montana State Billings slipped one spot this week and is seventh in the GNAC in hitting percentage at .166. The ‘Jackets are also 11th in kills per set (11.19), seventh in blocks per set (1.90), fifth in service aces (1.54), and ninth in digs (15.51).

Scouting Rocky Mountain College
Game Day: Tuesday, October 23 – 7 p.m.
2018 Record: 22-3, 8-0 FRONTIER, 5-0 home, 6-1 away, 11-2 neutral
2017 Record: 23-11, 9-3 GNAC, 6-2 home, 7-3 away, 10-6 neutral
Head Coach: Laurie Kelly (10th season)

Rocky Mountain College is perfect in the Frontier Conference this fall and picked up two Frontier Conference wins over the weekend. The Battlin’ Bears beat Carroll College 3-1 on Friday, then shutout Montana Western on Saturday. Both were home matches.

The Battlin’ Bears roster is comprised of four seniors, five juniors, four sophomores, and 10 freshmen. RMC has been able to keep opponents guessing with a balanced front row attack. Olivia L’Ami leads the team with 263 kills with others close behind including Hailey Copinga (251), Daniella Russell (208), and Miranda Gallagher (155). Copinga has the best hitting percentage among Bears’ starters at .253.

Defensively, Ruby Kallenbach leads the Bears with 419 digs (4.82 per set), followed by Copinga (293), Krista Judisch (218), and Annie Cooke (211). Natalie Hilderman has handled setting duties all fall for the Battlin’ Bears and has 832 total assists.

On the block, Naomi Badbear leads the squad with 89.0 blocks. Copinga is at 82.0 blocks and Miranda Gallagher has 74.0. Hilderman and Annie Cooke share the team lead with 28 service aces each.

Laure Kelly is in her tenth season as head coach. Last year, the Battlin’ Bears made their fifth trip in six years to the NAIA National Tournament. Kelly was named Frontier Conference Coach of the year in 2014.

Last time the two teams met, Rocky Mountain narrowly won in five close sets 24-26, 25-22, 21-25, 25-19, 15-9. The Yellowjackets failed to close in the final moments of the fifth set but both teams played an exciting brand of volleyball. RMC outhit the ‘Jackets .190 to .171 but MSUB held the advantage in services aces six to two. Three players had ten or more kills for Rocky Mountain College and Natalie Hilderman recorded a double-double (34 assists, 20 digs).

For the Yellowjackets, Alvarez made 26 digs in the back row and Skylar Reed had a breakout match, going for a career high 20 kills and a .340 hitting percentage. Maddi Vigil recorded a double-double with 19 kills and 17 digs.

All-Time Against the Battlin’ Bears: The rivalry began in 1986 and the Yellowjackets won the first 12 meetings between the two teams. Since then, matches have been much more closely contested but MSUB still holds the overall head-to-head lead in the series 37-22. However, MSUB is just 3-7 over its’ last ten matchups.

TEAM SNAPSHOT: MSUB has nine returning letter winners from last season and three roster newcomers. The team finished 9-21 (5-15 GNAC, 9th) in 2017.

LATER THIS WEEK: Including Tuesday, the Yellowjackets have seven matches remaining in the regular season (five home, two away). At 5-9 in the GNAC, they still have a chance to finish above .500 in the conference as well as overall. Next up after Rocky Mountain College will be #4 Western Washington and Simon Fraser. Both matches are in Billings with WWU coming to town Thursday October 25 at 7 p.m. followed by SFU Saturday at 7 p.m.

LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES: Western Washington has won 19 straight matches and continues to be unflappable in the GNAC standings as teams begin to head down the regular season stretch. Alaska Anchorage, who has been beaten by WWU twice this season is in second at 10-4. Central Washington is also 10-4 and Alaska Fairbanks and Seattle Pacific help round out the top five.

MSU Billings gained one position in the standings this week and is now ahead of Northwest Nazarene (5-9) and one game behind Concordia (6-8).

Tayler Markland (Northwest Nazarene, MB, Fr.) earned GNAC offensive player of the week as she led the Nighthawks to a split with Western Oregon and Concordia with 21 kills and a .514 hitting percentage (21 kills, 2 errors, 37 attempts). Markland finished with 10 kills and five blocks with a .348 hitting percentage in the Nighthawks’ five-set loss to Western Oregon on Thursday. She then finished with 11 kills and a .786 hitting percentage to go with two digs and three blocks in Saturday’s three-set sweep of Concordia.

Abby Phelps was named defensive GNAC player of the week. Phelps averaged 5.29 digs per set and had six blocks to help the Vikings sweep the Alaska schools. In addition to her 14 kills, Phelps finished with 21 digs and had a solo block in Thursday’s four-set win at Alaska Anchorage. She then had 16 digs and five blocks to go with 11 kills and a .300 hitting percentage in Saturday’s three-set sweep of Alaska.