(University of Montana media release)
MISSOULA - Despite scoring at least 20 points in each set, Montana suffered a 3-0 setback to Idaho State on Thursday night. The Grizzlies were paced by redshirt freshman Elsa Godwin, who tallied a career-high 11 kills on .429 hitting.
Playing a Bengals team that had lost 12 of their past 14 matches, Montana felt it had an opportunity to build off of its recent momentum and earn a Big Sky victory. Through the first two sets, that remained the case, with Montana leading for large portions of both sets. In the end, though, the Grizzlies were unable to win either set, falling behind 2-0.
"We start matches really cohesive and together, and I think after dropping two close ones, we felt a little separate from each other, and that caused miscommunication and for us to tighten up," head coach Allison Lawrence said. "We forced Idaho State to play tight the first two sets. They made some errors and didn't get the ball to the middles very well. All of a sudden, though, they loosened up and served well, and we couldn't stop them in the middle."
Idaho State then took control of the third set early, forcing the Grizzlies to burn both of their timeouts after falling behind 12-3. Montana fought back to be competitive before dropping the set, 25-20.
Montana had opportunities to win either – or both – of the first two sets, but lost both, which ended up being the backbreaker. In a back-and-forth first set, Montana was within a single point at 23-22, before the Bengals earned the final two points. Montana led by as many as three points in the second frame, and was the first team to 20 when it took a 20-19 lead. Idaho State closed down the stretch to win 25-23, though, in a set that the Bengals never led by more than two points.
Godwin had a career night with 11 kills and 12 digs, recording her first double-double and a personal best for kills. The .429 hitting percentage was also a career best, as she made just two errors on 21 swings. The redshirt freshman was clutch, particularly in the opening frame, when she recorded seven kills on nine swings, including zero errors.
"She's really fast and she hits really hard, but she has to use all of her body to do that," Lawrence said. "I thought after Idaho State adjusted to her, she made the decision to take responsibility for her game, and she swung really smart all night."
As good as Godwin was, though, she didn't have much of a supporting cast. Freshman Amethyst Harper had tallied at least 17 kills in three consecutive matches entering the night, and Janna Grimsrud was coming off of a 19-kill performance at Northern Arizona. The team's top two attackers, though, hit a combined -.020, with 13 kills and 14 errors.
"Several of our pieces weren't there tonight, and we were still at 22, 23 points," Lawrence said. "If we could have gotten one more piece going, things could have been different."
- Redshirt freshman Elsa Godwin had a career night with 11 kills on .429 hitting, in addition to 12 digs. The kills and hitting percentage were personal bests, as the Missoula native recorded her first career double-double.
- Godwin started strong, recording seven kills on nine swings – without an error – in the first set.
- After zero kills in the second frame, Godwin bounced back with four more kills in the final set.
- Senior Ashley Watkins had a double-double with 28 assists and 10 digs, but also added five kills. In the second set alone, the setter converted on two dumps and was successful with a joust at the net. One of the kills gave Montana a 20-19 lead in the second set.
- Montana recorded nine team blocks, its highest total in a three-set match this season. The Grizzlies held an 8-4 advantage in blocking before the Bengals blocked Montana five times in the third set, including on four consecutive points.
- Grimsrud led Montana for blocking with a career-high-tying seven. She had now recorded 20 stuffs in the past three matches (1.67 per set).
- Montana out-dug Idaho State, 44-36, and had three players in double figures for digs. In addition to Godwin's dozen, Sarina Moreno [gogriz.com] and Watkins each had 10.
- Senior Missy Huddleston had seven kills on .200 hitting, including four kills in the final set. Huddleston also had both of Montana's service aces.
- Montana was able to give extended time to Kelsey Nestegard and Alicia Wallingford in the third set. Montana went on a 3-0 run immediately following Wallingford's entrance, with Nestegard serving during the run.
- Set 1: In a back-and-forth set, Montana used a 4-0 run to erase a three-point deficit and take a 14-13 lead… Godwin had two kills and Huddleston had an ace during the run… The Grizzlies held a 15-14 advantage but shortly after, ISU used a 3-0 run to take a 19-16 lead… Montana again trailed 23-20 before back-to-back blocks – with Grimsrud in on both – forced an ISU timeout with the score 23-22... Coming out of the timeout, ISU earned the final two points.
- Set 2: Montana jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind a Grimsrud kill and Huddleston ace… The Griz led by three on multiple occasions, including 11-8 following a Huddleston kill… ISU worked back to take a 15-14 lead before Montana recaptured the lead at 19-18 (Watkins/Grimsrud block) and 20-19 (Watkins dump)… Montana's final three points, though, would come on service errors, allowing ISU to close on a 6-3 run.
- Set 3: ISU jumped out to a commanding 12-3 lead, forcing Montana to burn both of its timeouts… At that point, five of the Grizzlies' seven swings were errors (1-5-7), getting blocked four times in a row… Despite trailing by 10, 15-5, Montana got back to within four, including a 3-0 run at one point.
- Prior to Thursday, Montana had won at least one set in four consecutive matches.
Montana will host Weber State on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Wildcats were picked to finish second in the Big Sky preseason poll and are coming off of a sweep at Montana State Thursday night.