(EDITOR'S NOTE: MONTANA STATE PRESS RELEASE)
Sunday afternoon in Dahlberg Arena will mark the 106th meeting between Montana State and Montana on the volleyball court.
The annual Cat-Griz clash takes on new significance this season, as both matches will be played in Missoula due to the oddity of Big Sky Conference scheduling under COVID-19 protocols.
Sunday’s match will also be the first time the rivals play for the Main Line Trophy. The volleyball-only award features a bronze bell with each school’s logo represented. It is housed in a black cast-iron frame and mounted on a wooden base.
The Main Line Trophy is a symbol of longevity, resilience, and strength. It is a whimsical throwback to the early mining boom and the railroad that brought only the hardiest citizenry to the Treasure State. It was a time when you could hear the railway bells resonating from Hellgate to Gateway.
“There is no doubt the competition between Montana State and the University of Montana is one of the most storied and highly contested rivalries in collegiate athletics,” said MSU head coach Daniel Jones. “Since my first Cat-Griz contest back in 2015, it has made a huge impression on me and on every member of the program just how much these matches mean.
“What has really impacted me has been how much these two programs work in a tandem,” he added. “The experience of being a Bobcat is enhanced because of the rivalry with the Griz. It is a truly special experience for each of our athletes.”
Prior to the 1880s, transportation throughout the state was seasonal, mostly by foot or horseback. Railroads represented the coming of age in 19th-century America, but until they reached Montana, the
territory remained in its infancy. That changed in 1881, when the first railroad expanded to the Treasure State. Two years later, the Northern Pacific reached Gold Creek, east of Missoula. Four years after that, a second transcontinental cut across the Hi-Line to Havre, then southwest to Helena and Butte. With it came an influx of people, supplies and money, with the state suddenly welcoming miners, merchants, farmers and cattlemen.
“Playing for the Main Line Trophy adds even more depth to an already incredible experience,” Montana head coach Allison Lawrence said. “The Griz-Cat rivalry is so unique and special, and now we have a visible, tangible representation of what this rivalry means to our players, fans and the state of Montana.”
Throughout history, railroads have connected regions and states, but they have also connected time and eras. It is no different with the annual Cat-Griz volleyball rivalry.
The Main Line Trophy will be awarded to the victor after each match. Heading into Sunday’s contest, Montana State owns a slim 58-57 advantage in the all-time series dating back to 1975.
“We’re excited to now have a trophy to compete for between the two programs,” Jones commented. “It adds some nice spice; hoisting the trophy at the end of the contest and getting to take it home for the year is going to further enhance the competition between us. It makes it that much more meaningful.”
The two rivals will meet Sunday, Feb. 14 at 4 p.m., and on Monday at 7 p.m. in Missoula.