The Montana State Volleyball Team played their first conference home games with bouts against the Portland State Vikings on Sept. 28 and against the University of Montana Grizzlies on Sept. 30 in the first Brawl of the Wild match up this season. The Bobcats split the two contests, first with a loss to the Vikings in three straight sets, and then with a thrilling sweep against the rivals from over the mountain.
On Sept. 28, the Bobcats hosted Portland State for a conference match up in Shroyer Gym. The Bobcats were vying for their first conference win but were turned away quickly as Portland State took the first set 25-13. The Bobcats looked stronger in the second set as they found themselves up 24-23, within a point of winning the set, but Portland State retaliated and won the set 27-25. The Bobcats searched for momentum in the third set but were denied as the Vikings went on to win 25-18, winning the match in three straight sets.
Senior middle blocker Kiana Black tallied up 11 kills to lead the way for the Bobcats. Senior Katie Rutecki kept up her top-notch setting, racking up 33 assists on the night for the Bobcats. Toni McDougald had 11 kills for the Vikings while Erin Clark tallied 38 assists.
On Sept. 30, the Bobcats hosted the Grizzlies in the first volleyball match up of the Brawl of the Wild series. The Bobcats showed great improvement from the match up against Portland with solid play across the board. The improvements led to a commanding game and the Bobcats swept their rivals in three straight sets.
The Bobcats gained plenty of momentum winning the first set 25-22 in front of a sold-out crowd in Shroyer Gym. The second set defined the night as the Bobcats faced nine ties and three lead changes. Near the end of the set, the Bobcats found themselves down 22-19. A late rally had the score tied 23-23 when a spike landed in-bounds, giving the advantage to the Grizzlies.
The Bobcats never gave up, responding with a three-point run to take the set 26-24 after a Bobcat block landed in Grizzly territory for the set-winning point. The Bobcats came out of the break with a renewed sense of confidence as they raced to a 24-12 lead. The Grizzlies attempted a late rally, but the Bobcats sealed the game on an errant Griz serve that landed out of bounds to take the third set 25-17. This sealed the Bobcats first conference victory.
Junior outside hitter Natalie Passeck found a groove on the offensive side, leading the Cats with 10 kills on the night, and Rutecki again found her name at the top of the assists board with 31. Freshman Hannah Scott and Rutecki defended well, with 11 and 10 digs, respectively, to set the tone for the Bobcats.
With momentum on their side and looking to build off their thrilling victory over the University of Montana, the Bobcats will travel to Weber State on Oct. 5. Following this trip, the Bobcats will journey to Pocatello, Idaho on Oct. 7 for a match against Idaho State.