(Editor's note: Montana State University media release)
BOZEMAN – Montana State used an efficient offense getting contributions from all five hitters to cruise past Southern Utah 25-21, 26-24, 25-20 on Thursday night in Shroyer Gym.
With the victory, the Bobcats ensured themselves a spot in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, its second straight postseason appearance and the first back-to-back tournament berths since the 2004 and 2005 campaigns.
Montana State (13-11, 9-6) hit .358 from the field, its second highest hitting performance of the season since posting a .362 attack mark in its win at Montana on Sept. 24.
“I have to tip my hat to Allie (Lynch), because she’s putting up good, hittable balls, and giving our hitters options they can feast on,” said MSU head coach Daniel Jones. “We’ve worked a lot with our hitters on making good choices and I think that was evident against Southern Utah in that we hit a variety of different shots and were able to keep them on their heels.
“We were about as efficient as you’d hope to be,” Jones added.
The Bobcats broke away from a 16-15 advantage in the opening set with three consecutive points, capped by an Evi Wilson kill. MSU was able to maintain the margin down the stretch and took the set following a kill via freshman Kira Thomsen.
The second set featured 14 ties and eight lead changes before Southern Utah (13-14, 6-9) held set point at 24-23. A Wilson kill evened the frame, and the Bobcats received back-to-back kills from Hannah Scott for the come-from-behind win.
Tied at 13-all in the third game, MSU pulled away with a 4-0 run to take a 17-13 advantage on a Wilson kill. The Thunderbirds chipped the margin down to 21-19, but the Bobcats closed out the match on a 4-1 run highlighted by Wilson’s 11th kill of the match.
Thomsen and Scott led Montana State with 12 kills, apiece. All five Bobcat hitters- Thomsen, Scott, Wilson, Emma Pence and Kelsie White- hit over .300 for the contest. Scott ended with a career-high .478 attack mark to lead all players.
Lynch, a Bozeman product, dished out 38 assists, averaging 12.7 per set, while adding 12 digs and three blocks.
“Allie’s growth is really evident in running the offense,” Jones said. “She’s invested so much in her craft, she’s been in my office almost daily watching film, asking good questions and getting to know her teammates better. She’s figuring out how to best serve them as a setter.”
Defensively, the Bobcats were led by Allyssa Rizzo with 18 digs, while Pence paced MSU at the net with a match-high four blocks.
SUU was led by Stacey Hone with 16 kills and a .455 attack mark.
MSU will conclude its home schedule on Saturday night against Northern Arizona as it celebrates its three seniors- Wilson, Rizzo and Sydney Mathison- at 7 p.m. in Shroyer Gym.