BOZEMAN — (Editor's Note: Montana State Press Release)
Montana fought off two match points, won a challenge on a four-hit call that would’ve given Montana State the win, then went ahead by one following a Bobcat communication breakdown, before sealing a 25-16, 26-24, 22-25, 23-25, 17-15 victory over MSU on a Paige Clark kill on Tuesday night in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,500 fans in Shroyer Gym.
“It was classic Cat-Griz,” said MSU head coach Daniel Jones. “We were dealing with the emotion of winning the match, and then the challenge went Montana’s way, and we didn’t respond in the moment.”
The moment almost didn’t happen.
Trailing by eight points and down 2-1 late in the fourth set, Montana State rattled off a 13-3 run to force a fifth set. The Montana State (11-11, 7-4) run was sparked by seven kills behind the swings of Jordan Radick, Kira Thomsen, and Hannah Scott. And, coupled with the blocking of Emma Pence, Kaycee O’Dell, Jourdain Klein and Radick the Bobcats completed the improbable.
“I loved our fight,” Jones said. “We dug down and found a way to give ourselves an opportunity in the fifth set. That showed what we’re capable of, but tonight we lacked the consistency needed to get the win. We’ll continue to work on being better over a longer period of time.”
Montana (9-12, 4-7) took the opening set, outhitting the Bobcats .353 to .098.
The Grizzlies held a three-point lead midway through the second frame, before MSU battled back to even the contest at 18-all on a block by Pence and Avery Turnage. Tied at 24-all, UM used two Bobcat errors to take a 2-0 advantage.
Montana State got out to a four-point cushion midway through the third set, before Montana tied the stanza at 16-all. The Grizzlies held the lead twice down the stretch, but the Bobcats broke away at 21-all on a Scott kill and a Pence kill off a UM overpass. MSU won the set on a Klein kill.
“I think our emotions got the better of us from the start,” Jones said. “It was emotional to have a packed house and have our fans witness a Cat-Griz match for the first time since 2019. No one in the Big Sky, or for that matter, hundreds of programs in the nation, get to experience what we have in Shroyer Gym.”
Scott led MSU with a match-high 19 kills, while Klein added 12, Thomsen 11, and Pence 10. Senior setter Allie Lynch dished out 33 assists and added 11 digs for a double-double.
Defensively, the Bobcats had five players with double-digit digs, paced by Libby Christensen 22, Thomsen 19, Scott 15, Lynch, and Delaney Shearan 13. Pence led Montana State at the net with ten blocks, while Klein and Radick added five, apiece.
Montana was led by Katie Semadeni with 17 kills, while Jackie Howell added 13 kills and a match-high 29 digs.
Montana State will host Northern Colorado on Friday night at 7 p.m. in Shroyer Gym.