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MSU Billings holds off ‘Rockers for 4th straight win

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RAPID CITY, S.D. – Rallying to overcome a 10-7 deficit in the decisive fifth set Monday night at the King Center, the Montana State University Billings volleyball team held off host South Dakota School of Mines for a 3-2 road victory (21-25, 25-23, 25-22, 17-25, 16-14).

The Hardrockers won five straight points midway through the fifth set, pulling ahead 10-7 to set up a dramatic finish. Back-to-back kills by Great Northwest Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week Skylar Reed pulled MSUB within a single point, but the ‘Rockers won two of the next three moving dangerously close to the win up 13-11.

A Reed kill followed by three consecutive errors by SD Mines created match point, and a final miscue by the hosts off a serve from GNAC Defensive Player of the Week Maddi Vigil ended the match. “I am so proud of our relentless energy,” said MSUB head coach Casey Williams. “We fought through a couple matches this week that weren’t our best, but in the end we pulled it out. Our work ethic carried us through.”

Vigil led the team with 26 digs, while adding three service aces and five assists. Reed had a team-best 17 kills, while Joelle Mahowald added 11 kills and a pair of solo blocks. Hannah Hayden was huge defensively with four solo blocks in the match, including a momentum-swinging denial at the net to cap off an early 3-0 rally in the fifth set. Bayli Monck added nine kills and 20 digs, while Hannah Hashbarger had 35 assists and 16 digs. The win Monday extended MSUB’s streak to four straight victories, as the ‘Jackets improved to 4-1 on the 2021 spring season. “Special shout out to Maddi for changing our serve-receive pattern, and that was big tonight,” Williams said. “We started out slow, and once we moved into our 5-1 we were able to run our offense a little more effectively. Skylar again had a big night, and led us offensively. I’m super proud of our effort.”

Jacey Koethe led the home team with 14 kills while Chelsea Brewster completed a 10-kill, 15-dig double-double. Kiley Metzger led her team with 22 assists, while Kassie Luce had 20 assists and 10 digs and Anna Thomas had a team-high 27 digs. South Dakota Mines slipped to 3-8 with the defeat.

Reed’s first kill of the day sparked a four-point burst by the Yellowjacket offense, which pulled the score even in the opening set at 16-16. The Hardrockers rallied coming out of a timeout however, winning the next three points to establish a lead that they didn’t surrender en route to the 25-21 victory.

SD Mines won the first three points of the second set, but that proved to be the largest lead for either team in a back-and-forth period. Monck had a loud kill to give the ‘Jackets set point, and a defensive miscue by the Hardrockers pulled the match even as MSUB took the game 25-23.

A big swing by Jahsita Fa’ali’i was followed by a dual block by Monck and Mahowald, as the Yellowjackets wrestled away early momentum in the third set. One of the most exciting points of the match came with the score tied at 21-21, when Marissa Logozzo dove forward and managed to slide her hand under what looked to be a certain point for the Hardrockers. The key defensive play set up a kill for Mahowald, and the ‘Jackets won four of the next five points to pull ahead 2-1 with a 25-22 win.

SD Mines delivered with its back against the wall in the fourth set, breaking an 11-11 tie by winning six straight points. The Yellowjackets couldn’t recover from the deficit midway through the set, as the Hardrockers forced the decisive period with a 25-17 win.

MSUB won despite a .097 hitting percentage, while the Hardrockers posted a slightly better figure of .118. The teams were even in the match with nine blocks apiece, and each team had five receiving errors.

THE BUZZ: Vigil was tabbed the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 2-0 all-time against SDSMT and is 1-0 in road matches…the Yellowjackets have won all three of their five-set matches this spring…Monday was Hashbarger’s fourth double-double in five matches this season.

NEXT UP: MSUB has its final home match of the 2021 season on Thursday, with a 5 p.m. contest against Miles Community College. Live video will be available online here [youtube.com] and live statistics will be available online here [msubsports.com].

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