A thrilling Cat-Griz volleyball game unfolded in Missoula on Sunday, Nov 5. The Cats fought hard to take the match in the fifth set, winning three sets to two. The game was delayed one day as both the Cats and Griz were stranded in separate airports due to the inclement weather affecting the region over the weekend. This marked the first win for the Cats in Missoula since 2012, and the first-season sweep of the Griz since 2005. The win came on the tail end of a three set to one loss to top seeded Sacramento State.
The Cats traveled to California on Nov. 2 to take on the Hornets of Sacramento State University. With the odds stacked against the Cats from the start, they knew they would need to play their best match for the opportunity to come away with the victory. The Cats found themselves with the set point in hand in the first set, but were unable to finish out, eventually dropping the first set 27-25. The Hornets came out firing in the second set, eventually breezing to a 25-15 victory to go up two sets to none going into the break.
Head Coach Daniel Jones fired up the Bobcats at the break as the Cats went on to win the third set 25-23. With the opportunity to force a fifth set in hand, the Bobcats fought hard in the fourth set, but eventually the Hornets got the better of them with a 25-22 set victory to take the match three sets to one.
Five Bobcats finished with double-digit kills led by senior middle blocker Kiana Black with 14. Senior setter Katie Rutecki continued her stellar season tallying 48 assists on the day. The Hornets were led by senior outside hitter Shannon Boyle who totaled 21 kills on the day with senior setter Kennedy Kurtz collecting 54 assists for the game.
The Bobcats traveled to Missoula next to play the University of Montana Grizzlies in another Brawl of the Wild matchup. The Cats won in Bozeman on Sept. 30 against the Griz, shutting them out three sets to none. MSU looked to continue that dominance against the Griz in this rivalry bout. The Griz jumped out to an early lead to take the first set 25-22, but the Cats responded with a 25-23 win in the second set to send it to the break tied one set each.
Coming out of the break, Jones’ words seemed to have hit home again as the Cats won the third set 25-18, looking to seal the game in the fourth. The Griz never gave in as they went on to win the fourth set 25-23 to send the match a decisive fifth set. The Cats showed their resiliency in the fifth by winning the set 15-10 to bring home the “W” and a season sweep of the Griz for MSU volleyball.
Junior outside hitter Natalie Passeck paced the Bobcats on kills with 20 for the match, while sophomore outside hitter Evi Wilson added a career high 17 kills for Cats. Rutecki tied her best game of her career with 60 assists for the five-set bout.
The Bobcats return home this week to finish up their regular season with matches against the Eagles of Eastern Washington on Thursday, Nov. 9 and against the Vandals of Idaho on Saturday, Nov. 11.