BOZEMAN — The Montana State volleyball team picked up its first Big Sky Conference win of the season and kept Montana searching for the same thing with a 25-22, 26-24, 25-17 victory on Saturday night at Shroyer Gym in Bozeman.
The Bobcats (5-8, 1-3 BSC) hit .219 and never trailed in the first and third sets to snap a six-match losing streak and record their first 3-0 sweep of the Grizzlies (5-12, 0-4 BSC) in Bozeman since 2005.
Montana lost its ninth consecutive match and joins Southern Utah as the final two teams still seeking their first league win.
“Tonight was similar to a number of our previous matches. We’re inconsistent. We execute at a high level at times and then we’re really tentative at others,” said first-year coach Allison Lawrence.
“I thought we were our biggest opponent tonight, and that’s not to take anything away from Montana State. They were prepared, and they executed their game plan perfectly.”
Montana never led in the opening set but closed to within 22-21 on a kill by Missy Huddleston that forced a Montana State timeout.
With the outcome on the line, the Bobcats were better, getting kills from Natalie Passeck and Kelsie White to pull out the win.
That sequence would repeat itself in set No. 2.
Montana built a 22-19 lead, but a pair of attack errors by the Grizzlies and a kill by Hannah Scott allowed the Bobcats to pull even at 22-22.
A Mykaela Hammer kill gave Montana the first set point at 24-23. Passeck answered with a kill to make it 24-24, White did the same thing to put MSU ahead 25-24. Passeck and White then teamed up to block Hammer on Montana State’s first set point to give the Bobcats a 2-0 lead.
“There are only so many times we can keep feeling like we’re that close and wondering how things might have been different had we closed it out,” said Lawrence.
“Those moments are our biggest frustration and our biggest sense of hope, all in one, and tonight we’re on the side of frustration. They played fearlessly and we played full of fear.”
The final set was all Montana State. The Bobcats raced out to a 10-2 lead and would build their lead to a dozen before ending the match 25-17.
The Grizzlies hit .000 in the final set and .067 for the match, the fifth time this season they’ve hit below .100.
“When our opponent is playing loose and aggressive, like Montana State did tonight, we tighten up and give up big runs of points and don’t have an answer for it,” said Lawrence.
Hammer led Montana with nine kills and four blocks.