(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
LACEY, Wash. – After trading 25-19 scores in the first two sets and going to extra points in the third, the Montana State University Billings volleyball team suffered a tough 3-1 (19-25, 25-19, 26-28, 21-25) loss at Saint Martin’s on Thursday night.
“It was not a great night for us,” MSUB head coach Casey Williams said. “Statistically, we had too many errors. We did have some young players step up and lead us, and I am proud of their efforts.”
Of those younger players, second-year freshman Zoe Bibb surpassed her career high in the third set and finished with 10 kills; whereas true freshman setter Briel Norman finished with 20 assists and seven digs – both of which were career-bests.
Skylar Reed led MSUB’s offense with 15 kills – setting a season-best in GNAC play – and fellow upperclassmen Bayli Monck was the third ‘Jacket in double-figures with an 11-kill, 13-dig double-double.
Hannah Hashbarger opened the game with an ace and Bayli Monck recorded her first kills, but Saint Martin’s quickly responded by taking a 7-4 lead. The ‘Jackets used sharp serving from Christine Funk and Joelle Mahowald to put the brakes on the Saints in set one, yet MSUB strung together only as many as three points at a time. A mini 3-0 run capped off by a Mahowald kill pulled the ‘Jackets within two, but Saint Martin’s used a late 5-1 run to pull ahead 22-16. This lead held, and the Saints won set one 25-19.
However, MSUB got on the right side of a 25-19 score in set two. Skylar Reed had the hot hand start the second set – first by showing off her quick reflexes, swinging and resetting for the block to get MSUB on the board; then by notching her fourth kill to pull MSUB within one at 7-6.
Saint Martin’s took a 12-8 run, but Zoe Bibb subbed in and the tide turned. Hashbarger set up Monck for a kill on a tough angle, Bibb got on the board two plays later, then MSUB went on a set-clinching 8-0 run. Monck started things off with a kill, then back-to-back service aces made the score 15-14, SMU, and then back-to-back kills from Bibb gave the ‘Jackets the lead. A long serve from MSUB temporarily halted momentum, but Bibb came through again, slamming down her fourth kill of the set off a pass from Briel Norman. The Saints got within two points, but a 4-0 run featuring kills from Reed, Bibb and a service ace from Kennedy Juranek gave MSUB a 25-19 second-set win.
MSUB bolted out to a 6-2 lead in the third set off Juranek’s second ace and a swing into the net by SMU. The young ‘Jackets shone in the early goings, as Bibb surpassed her career-high with her seventh kill, then Funk’s second service ace of the night helped build on the lead. Then Bibb’s eighth kill doubled up the Saints 10-5, sparking a 4-1 run with kills from Norman and Mahowald. Playing in her first close game in college, Norman found her hitters – especially Reed, who finished with six kills in the third set – plus Monck and Bibb to give MSUB a 19-13 lead.
Saint Martin’s responded with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 19; from that point forward, it was essentially a brand-new set. Bibb and Mahowald helped MSUB take back the lead, yet SMU pulled ahead 24-21. One final surge from Norman, whose push over the net was too much to handle for SMU’s opposite hitter, then two consecutive errors from SMU put MSUB ahead 25-24. Although the call on the latter point was overturned to give SMU a 25-24 lead, Reed rose to the occasion by tying the game at 25 and 26 points before SMU won the next two points to win the third set 28-26.
Like she did in the previous set, Reed opened MSUB’s scoring with her 12th kill, sparking a 6-1 opening run for the ‘Jackets in the fourth. SMU went on a 4-0 run to get within one before Bibb’s 10th kill and an ace from Jahsita Fa’ali’i halted the Saints’ momentum. The ‘Jackets held off SMU’s 3-0 run and kept a 13-10 lead off another swing from Reed, yet the Saints tied the game at 14. Monck interrupted a 6-1 SMU run, then MSUB got chances from two Saints’ service errors, yet the home team took a 24-18 lead. The Yellowjackets had enough left in the tank to win three-straight match points with Mahowald’s eighth kill, a block from Norman and Hayden, then Reed’s 15th kill. The run stopped there, as the Saints clinched the match with a 25-21 fourth-set win.
MSUB next ventures to Monmouth, Ore. to play Western Oregon on Saturday at 8 p.m. MT. Links to live stats and video can be found on msubsports.com. [msubsports.com]