(Editor's note: Montana State Athletics press release)
BOZEMAN -- A lot happened in Montana State’s 25-23, 21-25, 25-17, 25-23 victory over defending Big Sky regular-season champions Idaho on Thursday night in Shroyer Gym.
Most notably was senior Allyssa Rizzo’s 12th dig of the night. It wasn’t anything dazzling. The product of Crestwood, Ill., covered a Vandal tip over the Bobcat block. A routine play.
Yet, it said volumes for what MSU’s libero has accomplished in her four years on the College Hill. Rizzo finished the match with 21 digs, giving her 1,730 for her career and surpassing the old mark of 1,720 set by Kandice Kelly from 2003-06.
“Rizzo’s career breaking dig was nothing spectacular,” said MSU head coach Daniel Jones. “She was just doing her job. That’s the thing with being a libero. Sometimes it’s not glamourous work. But she’s ranked among the nation’s leaders, leads the Big Sky and now has the school record. It’s special. She just does her job, has no ego, and sets a great example for what Bobcat volleyball is all about.”
Montana State (6-6, 2-1) found themselves down early in the opening set as Idaho (6-9, 2-1) jumped out to a 9-4 advantage. MSU evened the score at 14-all on an Evi Wilson kill. The two Big Sky rivals traded points throughout the midway mark before the Bobcats pulled away with a 3-1 run at 21-all. The Cats won the opening set on a Vandal hitting miscue.
The Vandals turned the table in the second stanza owning a sizeable 19-11 lead. The Bobcats chipped the deficit down to 22-20 on a Wilson kill, but Idaho was able to close out the set on a 3-1 run of its own.
MSU grabbed the momentum coming out of intermission as freshman Kira Thomsen’s kill gave the Bobcats an 18-13 lead in the third set. MSU’s other freshman starter Emma Pence connected on three kills down the stretch as Montana State out-hit Idaho .371 to .125 to go up 2-1.
In the fourth set, MSU held a 19-15 lead following a service ace by Sydney Mathison, but UI had one last stand rattling off four straight points to even the game at 19-all. Pence answered with a kill and Thomsen added an ace to give the Bobcats the cushion it needed to close out the match on a Wilson kill.
The victory snapped a 23-match losing streak to the Vandals. The last time MSU had defeated Idaho was on Sept. 14, 1990.
“We had a solid game plan going in,” Jones said. “We felt we identified some things on film where we could play to our strengths. I’m super proud of the team for getting it done. We talk a lot about doing things in the program that haven’t been done before and leaving things better than we found them. It was a great team effort.”
Wilson, a native of Vancouver, Wash., finished with a match-high 18 kills, while Pence and Thomsen added ten, apiece, and Hannah Scott chipped in nine. Setter Allie Lynch dished out 39 assists and added seven digs, while Kelsie White led MSU with a team-high six blocks.
“We went into this match expecting to win,” said Allyssa Rizzo. “I feel like in years past, it’s been like ‘we’re going to go compete’ and this year we were like ‘we can beat every team in this conference’ and with that mentality we’re going to have nights like tonight where we’re celebrating in four sets.”
Idaho was paced by Kennedy Warren with 18 kills and a .286 attack mark.
Montana State will host Eastern Washington on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Shroyer Gym.