(Editor's note: Montana State Athletics press release)
BOZEMAN -- The Montana State volleyball team picked the right match to record it first five-set victory of the season, knocking off defending Big Sky champion Northern Arizona 26-24, 14-25, 25-19, 27-29, 17-15 Thursday night in the Rolle Activity Center.
The win broke Northern Arizona’s 13-match home court win streak, the second longest in the program’s history.
The 2019 campaign continues to be a season of firsts under the leadership of third-year head coach Daniel Jones. The victory over the Lumberjacks snapped an eight-match losing streak to NAU. In addition, it was MSU’s first win in Flagstaff since Sept. 30, 2006.
“I’m super excited for team,” Jones said. “They are doing things and finding ways to get things done that we haven’t seen a long time.
“I thought (Assistant Coach) Cole (Aiazzi) gave us a good defensive game plan and we executed it at a high level. Offensively, we got points at critical moments and put up some efficient numbers. A win like this will build our confidence.”
Montana State (8-6, 4-1) set the tone early jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the opening frame. Northern Arizona (9-8, 2-3) worked its way back into the set to even the contest at 22-all. With the set tied at 24-all, MSU used a Kira Thomsen kill and an NAU setting miscue to take the early advantage.
The Lumberjacks quickly got on track in the second set flexing its offensive muscle outhitting the Bobcats .346 to .067 to even the match.
MSU grabbed the momentum back in the third stanza taking an early lead and held a comfortable margin before taking the set on another Thomsen kill.
Northern Arizona got an early cushion in the fourth frame and were on the verge of forcing a fifth and deciding game leading 24-20. The Bobcats, however, rattled off four straight points to even the contest. In all, MSU fought off seven set points before the Lumberjacks finally captured the contest on a kill by Abby Akin followed by a Bobcat hitting error.
The fifth set featured 13 ties, before Northern Arizona took a 14-12 margin, owning two match points. MSU used an NAU hitting mistake and a kill by Kelsie White to even the contest. A Lumberjack hitting error gave MSU set point at 15-14, but MSU returned the favor with a miscue of its own. Montana State then received a kill from Evi Wilson, before Thomsen capped the night with her 17th kill.
“I felt like we had plenty left in the tank in the final set and that’s a credit to our support staff,” Jones said. “This team is gritty and really showed some resilience.”
Thomsen, a freshman from Parker, Colo., recorded a season-high 17 kills to go along with 14 digs and four blocks. Hannah Scott also hit double-digits with 12 kills, while Wilson added nine kills and ten digs. MSU’s middle blocking due of White and Emma Pence combined for 16 kills and ten blocks.
Lynch finished with an impressive overall outing posting five kills, 44 assists, eight digs and three blocks. Defensively, Allyssa Rizzo paced the Bobcats with a match-high 30 digs.
MSU will play at Southern Utah on Saturday at 1 p.m.