(Editor's note: Montana State University athletics release)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – It took 22 years, but Montana State finally got a victory at Sacramento State behind a strong service game and a big block to post a 25-20, 24-26, 25-19, 25-8 win over the Hornets in opening-round action of the Big Sky Conference Tournament on Thursday night.
Montana State’s (15-13) last win on Colberg Court came on Oct. 17, 1997 with a 3-2 decision over the Hornets during regular season action. The victory was also MSU’s first in Big Sky Conference postseason play since the 2005 campaign.
“This team has been primed and has had singular focus on winning a tournament match,” said MSU head coach Daniel Jones. “They know the history of the program and what’s been done, and they achieved their first goal; a huge box has been checked. Now, we move onto the next goal.”
The Bobcats used a dominating performance from the service line recording 15 aces, it’s best performance of the season. And, while Kira Thomsen, Allyssa Rizzo and Lexi Goroski were racking-up aces, MSU’s passing line shutout the Hornets.
“We were dominate from the service line, and that helps bring our block into play, and we saw that executed tonight,” Jones said. “When you can get your opponents on their heels, it makes everything easier.”
Montana State jumped out early in the opening set taking a 13-7 advantage following a Kaycee O’Dell kill. MSU held the margin throughout the remainder of the set and took a 1-0 lead after Allie Lynch tapped down a Sacramento State (14-18) overpass.
The second set featured 15 ties and six lead changes. Montana State took 22-19 lead on a Hornet hitting miscue, but Sacramento State rallied with four consecutive points to go up 23-22. Sac State eventually fought off two set points to even the match at one-all.
Following a brief intermission, the Bobcats grabbed the momentum from the Hornets taking a 13-3 lead on a Goroski ace. MSU used three kills apiece from Thomsen and Hannah Scott down the stretch to put the third set away.
The Bobcats cruised to the fourth set victory out-hitting Sacramento State .208 to -.250. Freshman Emma Pence finished off a strong effort at the net with a pair of blocks, while Thomsen and Evi Wilson closed out the match, offensively.
Thomsen paced the Cats with 12 kills, while Wilson and Scott added 11 and ten, respectively. Thomsen finished with a career-high six aces as well as notching seven digs. Wilson posted her sixth double-double of the season adding 12 digs, while recording a solid .370 attack mark.
“I thought Evi was very efficient and Kira took a lot of swings and handled a huge workload,” Jones said. “Hannah was a force to be reckoned with, and along with Emma, they both came up big in the block.”
Lynch dished out 30 assists and added 12 digs, while Rizzo guarded the back row with a match-high 20 digs.
Sacramento State was led by Sarah Davis with 16 kills and 17 digs.
MSU will face top-seeded Northern Colorado in semifinal action on Friday night at 8 p.m. (MT).