(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
NAMPA, Idaho – Bolstered by new career-highs from several younger players, the Montana State University Billings volleyball team outlasted the Northwest Nazarene University Nighthawks for a 3-2 (18-25, 25-19, 25-22, 15-25, 25-9) Great Northwest Athletic Conference win on Thursday.
“We fought incredibly hard tonight and worked hard for that win,” MSUB head coach Casey Williams said. “Hannah Hashbarger did a great job of moving the ball around and getting us in system. I’m proud of our team!”
Ever a steady presence for the Yellowjackets (12-15, 7-10 GNAC), sophomore setter Hannah Hashbarger was one shy of her season-high with 48 assists, plus her three kills and three service aces – including one on match point. Senior right-side hitter Bayli Monck led the way with 17 kills, Skylar Reed added 13, plus Olivia Schwartz set a new career-high with a dozen kills to lead the way for MSUB.
With the win, MSUB swept the Nighthawks (6-19, 3-14 GNAC) for the first time since 2018.
As it was the theme throughout the match, the team who scored first eventually went on to win the set. NNU went on a 4-2 run to start, forcing MSUB to claw out of the deficit early. The young Yellowjackets rallied to tie it: first with back-to-back kills from Olivia Schwartz, then with an ace from freshman libero Christine Funk to tie the set at six.
A pair of kills from Skylar Reed helped MSUB keep pace, then Idaho native Mikayla Yore came alive on the block. Yore and Bayli Monck teamed up for a block, then Yore earned the first of her four kills in the first set to make things 13-11, NNU. Schwartz and Joelle Mahowald helped MSUB stay in the mix of things, yet the Nighthawks went on a 4-0 run late to take a 23-16 lead. Although Yore delivered with back-to-back kills to pull the ‘Jackets within five, NNU won the next two points to pull ahead with a 25-18 first-set win.
In set two, MSUB got an early lift from Yore being active on the block once more; she and Monck blocked back-to-back swings to give MSUB a 2-0 lead, then MSUB took a 7-4 lead off another kill by Mahowald. NNU would come back to tie things at 8, but a pair of kills from Reed highlighted a 6-1 run that gave MSUB a 14-9 lead. Keeping the Nighthawks at arm’s length, Yore and Schwartz teamed up for a block, then Marissa Logozzo ran down a would-be NNU kill, which led to a point for the ‘Jackets and a 19-14 lead. Monck helped wrap things up at the service line, capping off a 3-0 run for the ’Jackets with an ace before Reed shut the door on NNU with two late kills to win the second set 25-19.
Riding on momentum from their second-set win, the ‘Jackets took a big lead to begin the third set. With Kennedy Juranek back to serve, a pair of kills from Schwartz, an ace from Juranek and a block from Mahowald and Schwartz helped MSUB double up NNU 8-4. Hashbarger’s kill helped MSUB double up the Nighthawks again at 12-6, then MSUB maintained its large lead for the next few points. Kills from Yore and Marissa Logozzo’s first kill of the season put MSUB ahead 17-10 and forced a timeout, but then the Nighthawks clawed back into the set, taking a 22-21 lead.
Yet MSUB’s upperclassmen came through. An NNU error tied the game, then swings from Reed and Monck – with an ace from Hashbarger that was just out of reach for NNU’s back line – sealed the deal in MSUB’s 25-22 set win.
NNU took a 2-0 lead before both teams see-sawed to begin the fourth set. Neither team held serve for more than one point until the Nighthawks took a decisive 4-0 run to go up 10-5 on the ‘Jackets. Reed snapped NNU’s run out of the timeout, then the ‘Jackets pulled closer with back-to-back kills from Monck to make the score 12-9, NNU. MSUB would pull within three points once more with Schwartz’s kill at 16-13, yet the Nighthawks pulled away with a 9-2 run to win the fourth set 25-15.
Reed started the scoring in the fifth set, then Hashbarger’s second ace clipped the top of the net and fell inbounds, then Monck gave MSUB a quick 3-0 lead. A block from Yore and Monck sent NNU reeling, then MSUB took a 6-1 lead on Yore’s eighth kill that made NNU call timeout. This early cushion benefited MSUB early on, as NNU chipped away to pull within three at 10-7.
But MSUB wouldn’t relinquish the lead. Mahowald stopped the Nighthawks’ rally not once but twice with a pair of kills down the stretch, then Hashbarger found Reed and Monck to force match point. Hashbarger’s line-drive of a serve and fooled NNU’s back line as it barely graced inbounds in order to give the ‘Jackets the win.
MSUB finishes the 2021 season at Central Washington this Saturday at 1 p.m. MT. Links to live stats and video can be found on msubsports.com. [msubsports.com]