BOZEMAN – In a four-set match that featured 31 ties and 11 lead changes, Portland State captured the close games it needed en route to a 34-32, 17-25, 27-25, 25-17 victory over Montana State on Saturday afternoon in Shroyer Gym.
Montana State (9-10, 5-3) saw its four-match winning streak end.
The Bobcats held a 22-18 advantage in the opening set after a Portland State (13-6, 7-1) hitting error. The Vikings responded, rattling off six straight points to hold a 24-22 lead. MSU battled back to tie the set at 24-all on a Kira Thomsen kill and the Bobcats held five set points down the stretch, which PSU answered.
The Vikings held four set points as well during the extra session, but MSU was unable to rally late as PSU closed out the set on a Parker Webb kill and a Bobcat hitting miscue.
“We left the door open, and Portland State took advantage,” MSU coach Daniel Jones said. “As hard as it is to lose that match, I truly believe we are right where we need to be. Portland State showed us where we need to improve to win a Big Sky championship.”
MSU regained its momentum in the second stanza, jumping to a 17-9 lead following a block by Jourdain Klein and Emma Pence. The Bobcats won the set on a Portland State hitting error.
The third set mirrored the first with MSU getting out early before letting the Vikings back in with an 8-3 run at the midway mark of the frame. Portland State held a 22-20 lead before an Avery Turnage kill and a block by Turnage and Jordan Radick evened the contest at 23-all.
Following an ace by MSU’s Hannah Scott, the Bobcats held set point, but the Vikings rattled off three points on a Webb kill sandwiched between two MSU hitting errors.
Portland State got out to an early 4-1 lead in the final set and never relinquished the lead. Ahead 16-15 at the midway mark of the frame, the Vikings went on a 5-1 run, eventually winning the match on a kill by Gabby Hollins.
“We’re a very good volleyball team,” Jones said. “But we had little moments and lapses and when you play a top team, they’re going to take advantage.
“I feel we’re still in a great situation,” Jones added. “We’re hitting the halfway point of Big Sky play and we will be able to make the changes and adjustments we need, because we have the athletes to do so.”
Thomsen led MSU with 15 kills. Scott had 13, Radick 11 and Klein 10 also reached double-figure kills.
Scott and Allie Lynch each posted double-doubles as Scott finished with 11 digs and Lynch dished 27 assists and added 13 digs. Libero Libby Christensen paced MSU with 19 digs. At the net, Pence led all players with eight blocks, including a career four solo blocks.
MSU travels to Northern Arizona on Thursday.