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'Controlling the net' key for Montana State in Big Sky opener against Montana

Montana State Volleyball
Posted at 5:15 PM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 19:19:59-04

BOZEMAN — Growth through adversity has been the motto this season for Montana State volleyball as they gear up for Big Sky play, which kicks off Tuesday night against the Montana Grizzlies.

The Bobcats wrapped up their slate of tough, nonconference matches this past week, which was highlighted by a disappointing five-set loss to the nationally ranked Washington Huskies.

“One of the most frustrating ways to end what was a great spectacle of volleyball," Bobcats head volleyball coach Daniel Jones said. "A lot of pride in taking the No. 17 team in the country all the way to extra points, but also a little frustrating to not get it done. We’re growing through this adversity and we’re better for it.”

The Bobcats are no stranger to five-set matches this season, with nearly half of their nonconference schedule sporting them.

While they’ve only been able to close out one of the five full-set matches, which currently sits them at 4-7, Jones says there are both positive and negative takeaways.

“Number one it teaches me as a head coach that I know my team will respond," Jones explained." If we’re in a battle, we’re going into the battle. We’re not going to back off for anybody. I think it also teaches me we can be a little bit more detail-oriented and we can be a little more aggressive in the moments we have to be aggressive.”

Meticulous detail will be key Tuesday night as the Bobcats open up Big Sky play against the Griz, who are a much different team than this past spring season.

“They have two new outside hitters," Jones said. "They have a new middle blocker and some new pieces on their side of the net. We’re going to have our work cut out for us not only because they’re doing well, but because of the environment.”

It will be a battle of controlling the net as Emma Pence and Jordan Radick prepare for Montana’s star middle blocker Ellie Scherffius who leads the Big Sky with a .415 attack mark.

“We’re going to have to figure how to slow them down," Jones added. "To be honest, it’s no secret. It’s going to come down to serving and passing. If we can serve well and put them under pressure, take their middles out of the equation, then it’ll go well.”

The Bobcats will look to keep the Main Line Trophy in their possession Tuesday night as they hit the road to Missoula.