(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS, Mont. – Despite a frenzied comeback in the fourth set and senior opposite hitter Bayli Monck surpassing 1,000 career kills, the Montana State University Billings volleyball team dropped the first game of Great Northwest Conference Athletic play against Central Washington in four sets on Thursday.
“Tonight was a tough one,” MSUB head coach Casey Williams said. “We had a great start, but unfortunately we couldn’t finish the match. CWU was super scrappy on defense and picked up a ton of out balls. I’m proud of our fight. I’m looking forward to getting back on the court on Saturday afternoon.”
The Yellowjackets (3-6, 0-1 GNAC) were led by junior Skylar Reed’s 13 kills, five of which came in the fourth set as the ‘Jackets mounted a comeback. Monck finished with 11 kills, including her 1,000th, which made her the ninth player in MSUB history to surpass that mark.
The Yellowjackets will look for their first GNAC win against Northwest Nazarene this Saturday at 1 p.m
MSUB came out firing on all cylinders in the first set. In a close battle in which neither team led by more than two points. Hannah Hayden and Bayli Monck teamed up for a block on the opening point that the Yellowjackets parlayed into a 2-1 lead, thanks to Monck’s first kill of the night. Trailing 8-7, junior Skylar reed’s kill from Briel Norman sparked a 5-0 run. With Hannah Hashbarger serving, the Wildcats couldn’t get a rhythm in serve-receive; a Hashbarger ace and another error up front led to an early CWU timeout with the ‘Jackets up 12-08.
Leading 12-10, Monck elevated at the front of the net, swung, and placed the ball towards the back line for her 1,000th career kill. Kills from Tiffany Chandler and another astute play for a Hashbarger kill made MSUB’s lead 16-12. The Wildcats threatened to get back into the game, but Skylar Reed and Monck shut the door on any comeback attempts: first by Reed deflecting a shot off two Wildcat defenders, and then by Monck closing out the set with three kills to close out the set with a 25-23, MSUB win.
The Wildcats took a 6-1 lead early in set two before MSUB called a timeout. Out of the timeout, CWU’s attack went out of bounds, then Monck notched her sixth kill to make the score 6-3, Wildcats. MSUB tried digging out of a 9-4 deficit with kills from Joelle Mahowald, Norman and four kills from Reed, but the Yellowjackets couldn’t get closer than five points in the second set.
The end of the second set was defined by both teams winning long points. Deep digs from Reed, Funk, an acrobatic one from Monck ended in a Mahowald kill that was blocked out of bounds. Both teams traded service errors Another at 23-14 that Reed nearly ended before CWU kept the play alive and eventually won the point. Reed finished the job to win the next point, but the Wildcats won the set 25-15.
The third set opened with a kill from Monck and a strong block from Hayden and Chandler to tie the game at two. However, the Wildcats would win the next five points to take a 7-2 lead, prompting Williams to take a timeout. MSUB ripped off a 5-1 run out of the timeout, mostly spurred by defense at the net from Mahowald, who had two blocks and then a kill she corralled in from a behind-the-back set from Norman. CWU threatened to pull away midway through the set with a 14-10 lead, but Reed skied in for a kill that sparked another 5-1 run. An ace from Hashbarger, then a mad dash to the scorer’s table to keep the play alive led to a kill from Monck that tied the game at 14. Both teams seesawed until CWU broke through, eventually taking set three, 25-18.
To open the fourth set, a kill from Monck and a service ace courtesy of freshman libero Christine Funk – who sent two Wildcats diving into their own sideline – gave MSUB an early lead. CWU went on a run to make the game 8-4, but Mahowald stopped the run by sprinting to the right side for a rocket of a kill. She went on to slam another home two points later, then a block from Hayden pulled MSUB within three, 9-6. The Wildcats led 15-10 midway through the set, prompting an MSUB timeout for one more push.
MSUB answered. Another kill and a block sequence from Mahowald, solid back-line play from Funk to keep MSUB going, then a kill from Chandler pulled the ‘Jackets within one, 15-14. The visitors nearly pulled away with an 18-14 lead, but a pair of service errors kept MSUB’s hopes alive. Reed pulled through late, with three of her five kills of the set coming from a 5-2 run that tied the game at 23-all. CWU won the next two points to take the match.