The Montana State Bobcats took down the University of Montana Grizzlies in Shroyer Gym on Saturday, Sept. 26. The Cats defeated the Griz 3-1 and took a 1-0 lead in the annual Brawl of the Wild series.
The Griz came out in the first set with authority. Out-hitting the Bobcats .476 to -.033, the Griz defeated the Bobcats to take set one with a score of 25-12. “We started a bit tight which is understandable as it was a big weekend with homecoming and the Brawl of the Wild,” Coach Riley said.
MSU rebounded in the second set and evened the score. Leading 17-11 at one point, the Bobcats went on to win the second set 25-20. Momentum from that win carried over into the third set, as the Bobcats came out on top with a score of 25-21. “One thing we have been stressing is to play with a calm and clear mind which I think the team demonstrated as the match went on as well,” Riley said. “On top of that every athlete started to make plays, which helped contribute to the victory and the bench was awesome providing some needed fire.”
The Grizzlies showed some of their earlier spark in the fourth set and led early with a score of 14-10. The Bobcats fought back and tied the score twice before taking a 21-18 lead. The Grizzlies rallied back to within one at a score of 23-22, but the Bobcats answered with back-to-back kills to secure a 25-22 victory in the fourth set. “I know the team really wanted that win,” Riley said. “Another major factor was the amazing students, band and community support that showed up which really helped fuel the comeback. It’s easy to keep fighting in that environment.” The Bobcats will play the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo. on Thursday, Oct. 1. “Leading up to UNC we are focusing on cleaning up some blocking, team defense, and serving,” Riley said. “We will also keep developing our hitters toolbox to help our hitters deal with all scenarios which will help our offensive production.”