Spikers start strong at Sam Houston Invite

The Montana State volleyball team opened their 2015 season on the road. Travelling to Huntsville, Texas, the Bobcats competed in the 27th annual Bearkat Invitational at Sam Houston State.

The Bobcats opened tournament play with a 3-1 win over the Tulane Green Waves. “It felt great to get our first win together as a team, staff and program,” MSU Head Coach J.J. Riley said. “To have that first feeling [winning] together with a new team is always neat and a special time and it is something that we enjoyed.” The Bobcats came out strong and built a 2-0 lead right off the bat, outscoring Tulane 25-18 and 25-23. Tulane battled back in the third match before the Bobcats put away the Green Waves in the fourth match 26-24. “The players have been working really hard and it is important for them to have experiences that make them happy and feel good about themselves, so getting a win right out of the gates definitely helps.”

The Bobcats had a couple hours to rest before playing University of Texas-San Antonio. The Roadrunners defeated the Bobcats in three with scores of 25-17, 25-16 and 25-23. “Something we stress everyday is that we need to keep improving in everything we do and it’s important to have that mindset daily,” Coach Riley said. “We want our athletes to understand that we should never stop improving or learning as there is always more we can do or give.”

The Bobcats showed improvement the next day with a commanding win over Prairie View A&M in the morning. The Bobcats defeated the Panthers in three matches, 25-14, 25-22, and 25-18. The Bobcats held advantages over the Panthers in hits, kills, assists, digs, aces and blocks. “The great thing about this past weekend is that everyone contributed, from the freshmen all the way up to the seniors,” Riley said.

The Bobcats fell to hosting team Sam Houston State in their final game 3-1. The Bobcats split matches with the Bearkats before dropping the final two matches. “We have some areas for sure to improve on when it comes to playing this game but a big area of focus right now is on our mentality, toughness, and learning what it takes to truly give it our best,” Riley said. “The players are embracing it and doing a fabulous job.”

The Bobcats will travel to the Nevada Tournament on Sept. 11 and 12 to face the University of Miami (Ohio) and University of Nevada. “The biggest goals for the Nevada tournament are to keep improving on playing with great passion, grit and investing in the idea of when the match is over we can walk off that court knowing that we gave everything we had,” Riley said.