BOZEMAN – Montana State had its most efficient offensive performance of the season en route to a 25-22, 23-25, 25-14, 26-13 Big Sky Conference victory over Sacramento State on Thursday night in Shroyer Gym.
In all, six Bobcats hit .333 or better, paced by Kira Thomsen, who finished with a match-high 18 kills, a .333 attack mark and a match-high 18 digs. Montana State (9-9, 5-2) held a commanding 70-47 advantage in kills and a 70-49 edge in digs.
MSU jumped out early in the opening set, taking a 14-9 lead on an Emma Pence kill. Sacramento State (8-9, 3-4) responded with a 6-1 run to tie the game at 15-all. The set was even three times at the midway mark, before the Bobcats pulled away at 18-all on back-to-back kills by Jourdain Klein. MSU maintained the margin winning the first frame on a Hannah Scott service ace.
“Early on we were hitting around .600 and our set distribution by Allie (Lynch) and Audrey (Hofer) was outstanding,” MSU head coach Daniel Jones said. “It was great to get everyone involved. It was just a great offensive performance.”
Montana State held a 22-20 lead in the second set, before the Hornets closed out the contest on a 5-1 run, winning on a kill by Kalani Hayes.
Following intermission, MSU came out strong getting off to a 12-7 lead on a Thomsen kill and expanding the margin to 17-10 on a Scott kill. The Bobcats took a 2-1 match lead following a Sacramento State hitting error.
The final set mirrored the third as MSU got out to a 16-6 lead following a block by Klein and Jordan Radick. The Bobcats captured the match on the Hornets’ 16th miscue of the night.
Tthe Bobcats outhit Sacramento State .409 to .066 in the final two sets.
“We let that second set get away from us, but I’m very proud with how we came out in sets three and four, especially under the leadership of Kira Thomsen,” Jones said. “Kira wanted the ball and when she gets that look in her eye, very few can stop that.”
MSU’s service game wreaked havoc in the final two sets, producing four aces and getting the Hornets on their heels. MSU won the service game with a 6-2 lead in aces.
“Our service pressure was suffocating,” Jones said. “We got them under pressure, and it allowed our defense to play with greater freedom.”
Also contributing to the Bobcat attack was Klein, who finished with a season-high 13 kills while posting a .500 attack mark. Also recording double-digit kills were Scott 14 and Pence 10. Lynch and Hofer dished out 31 and 24 assists.
Defensively, Pence paced the Bobcats with a match-high six blocks. MSU libero Libby Christensen notched 18 digs, her highest total since notching 19 saves at Boise State in late August.
The victory pushed MSU’s Big Sky win streak to four.
“We took control of our side of the net and we executed the game plan, Jones added. “We made minor adjustments coming out of intermission, but our attitude was great, and the outcome was exciting.”
Montana State hosts Portland State on Saturday at noon in Shroyer Gym.