(Editor's note: Montana State University media release)
GREELEY, Colo. – Northern Colorado flexed its muscle holding a 45-32 advantage in kills en route to a 25-18, 28-26, 25-22 victory over Montana State on Monday night in Bank of Colorado Arena.
Montana State (1-1, 1-1) took an 18-16 lead late in the opening set, but Northern Colorado rattled off nine straight points for the victory.
The second set featured 14 ties and six lead changes. The Bobcats had two set points at 24-22, but the Bears responded with a kill and service ace. Again, MSU took a one-point advantage following a block by Emma Pence and Hailey Merkes, and again, the Bears answered with two points to hold set point. A Kira Thomsen kill made it 26-all, but UNC finished out the stanza on back-to-back Bobcat errors.
In the third frame, Northern Colorado pulled away at the midway mark taking a 17-13 lead. MSU was able to close to within 21-20 on an ace via Delaney Shearan. The Bears went on a 4-2 run down the stretch, winning the match on a kill by Rachel Hickman.
“I thought we did a nice job slowing down there two all-conference outsides,” said MSU head coach Daniel Jones. “However, their right-side got loose and into a nice rhythm and we didn’t have an answer.”
Hickman finished with a match-high 17 kills and .455 attack mark for the Bears. UNC’s outside hitting duo of Kiley Jo Ince and Taylor Muff combined for 15 kills but hit just .038 from the field.
Montana State was led by Thomsen with nine kills, while Kaycee O’Dell added seven kills and a .333 attack mark. Pence finished with four kills and a .571 attack.
“Our middles did a nice job,” Jones said. “When we had the opportunity to go to them, we were very efficient, however, those opportunities were limited.”
Defensively, MSU was led by Thomsen and Allie Lynch with 10 and eight digs, respectively. Pence finished with a team-high six blocks, while O’Dell added three.
“Every team is going to go through growing pains,” Jones said. “Fortunately, we get a bye next week and will be able to get in the practice gym and make some adjustments. Northern Colorado is a championship team and they responded.”
Montana State will host Northern Arizona in its home-opener, Saturday, Feb. 6 at 5 p.m. in Shroyer Gym.