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Montana State volleyball pushes No. 7 Washington, falls in five sets

MSU UW volleyball celebrate.jpg
Posted at 7:48 AM, Sep 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 09:48:01-04

(Editor's note: Montana State press release)

SEATTLE-- Montana State had No. 7 Washington on the ropes late in the fifth set before the Huskies rallied for a come-from-behind 26-28, 25-17, 22-25, 25-11, 16-14 win over the Bobcats on Thursday afternoon in Alaska Airlines Arena.

Montana State (4-6) held an 11-7 lead over Washington (6-1) late in the fifth and deciding set, before the Huskies rattled off five consecutive points, taking its first lead at 12-11 on a Madi Endsley kill.

Following a MSU timeout, Bobcat freshman Jordan Radick delivered a kill from the middle to even the contest. The frame was tied two times down the stretch, with the Bobcats fighting off a UW set point on a Hannah Scott kill. The Huskies took a 15-14 advantage on a kill by All-America First-Team selection Samantha Drechsel and won the match on a Shannon Crenshaw service ace that dribbled off the tape and found the floor.

“I’m just super proud of our effort,” said MSU head coach Daniel Jones. “We have a lot of mixed emotions right now. On one hand, we’re thrilled to have put up a good fight, and not get beaten down, but we’re completely bummed we had the #7th-ranked team and let them slip through our fingers.”

Scott, a 5-11 senior outside hitter, was almost unstoppable playing one of the best matches of her tenure in the Blue and Gold. The product of Hawthorne, Calif., finished with a match-high 17 kills, posting a .400 attack mark along with nine digs, five blocks and an ace.

“Hannah had the most mature match of her career,” Jones said. “All the way around, she produced big points, played outstanding defense and her blocking was very timely. She really was our spark. I’m proud of her for stepping into that role, it’s something we’ve challenged her on, and she delivered in a big way.”

The Bobcats opened the match getting out to a 7-2 lead in the opening set and held an 11-6 advantage before the Huskies started chipping away at the deficit to even the stanza at 14-all. The set was tied eight times, before UW held set point at 24-23 following a kill by Emoni Bush. Back-to-back kills by Emma Pence and Kira Thomsen gave MSU set point at 25-24, but the Huskies received a kill via Ella May Powell to again tie the game.

Tied at 25-all, a kill by Thomsen coupled by an Endsley hitting error gave MSU the win.

“Our goal heading into the match was to play fearless volleyball,” Jones commented. “I thought we played fearlessly the whole way through. We just broke down tactically. In the first set, we outhit them, sided-out at a higher rate and did not back down in the battle.”

The second set was all Washington as the Huskies outhit the Bobcats .429 to .150. UW took advantage of four MSU service errors and won the frame following a Bobcat hitting error.

Washington held its momentum in the third set getting out to a 15-11 lead following a block by Marin Grote and Endsley. Following a Bobcat timeout, MSU outscored the Huskies 10-4, taking a 21-19 lead on a UW hitting miscue and forcing a Washington timeout. Montana State held the margin down the stretch, going up 2-1 on a Thomsen kill.

The fourth set mirrored the second as Washington held a .647 to .077 advantage in hitting led by Endsley with five kills and Sophie Summers with four.

Also positing double-figure kills for MSU was Thomsen with 10, while Avery Turnage 8, Radick 7, Pence 5 and Jourdain Klein 4 produced timely points. The Huskies finished the match outhitting the Bobcats .279 to .178.

“It was a heavyweight fight,” Jones laughed. “If you look at the stat sheet, some of our kids didn’t have great numbers, however, all found ways to contribute, and that’s all you can ask.”

Setters Audrey Hofer and Allie Lynch dished out 24 and 18 assists, apiece.

Defensively, Maci Abshier paced the Bobcats with 11 digs. The freshman from Belleview, Fla., also added two aces. At the net, Pence guided MSU with eight blocks, with Turnage, Radick and Klein adding three, apiece. Klein finished with a match-best three aces.

“When we scheduled this tournament, we were looking for the equivalent of a NCAA match,” Jones said. “And we got that. Our kids know they can go toe-to-toe with any team in the country.”

Washington was led by Endsley, who was the AVCA Pacific North Region Freshman of the Year during spring play, and Drechsel with 14 kills, apiece. Powell, who garnered All-America First-Team recognition and was the Pac-12 Setter of the Year, finished the match with 47 assists, four kills, seven digs and two blocks.

“A match like this gives us self-belief that if we play to the best of our abilities, we can hang with anyone,” Jones said.

MSU’s 3-2 loss to Washington was the first time in school history the Bobcats have gone five sets against a ranked team. Montana State has never recorded a win over a top 25 opponent. The Bobcat are now 1-4 in five set matches this season.

Montana State will conclude play at the Washington Invitational against Fresno State beginning at 2 p.m. (MT) on Friday.