(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – Strong blocking and aggressive hitting by Alaska Anchorage were too much for the Montana State University Billings volleyball team to overcome Friday night as the Yellowjackets fell 3-0 in their home opener at Alterowitz Gymnasium. The Seawolves took the first set 25-21, then continued their aggression in the second set to win it 25-18. MSUB mounted their best effort in the third frame but ultimately came up short 28-26, despite earning set points in extra time.
Montana State Billings (6-5, 0-3 GNAC) had flashes of brilliance but could not string together a large run of points to put away the Seawolves. They included a solo block by Eavan Taylor at 22-18 in the first set and a motivating kill by Keira Larsen to make it 20-16 in the third. Maddi Vigil’s kill to tie the score at 26 in the final set was still not enough to turn the match around for MSUB.
“It was a tough loss for us tonight,” commented head coach Casey Williams after the match. “I thought we had really great moments but couldn’t string together the consistency we needed to overcome UAA.”
Vigil and Bayli Monck both contributed to the sparks of offense the ‘Jackets gathered in the match and each posted ten kills to lead the team. Vigil also had a double-double in the effort with 12 digs. Izela Alvarez led all players with 16 digs and Kylee Clarke and Alexa Smythe combined for 33 assists with 17 and 16 respectively.
Chrisalyn Johnson was the only UAA player to post double-digit kills for the Seawolves (12) but the UAA defense made key blocks against the Yellowjackets big hitters at the right times. Johnson led Alaska Anchorage with four block assists and one solo block and Tara Melton also made four block assists on the night.
The Seawolves hit .223 for the match compared to just .119 for MSUB. The Yellowjackets were especially troubled in the second set, hitting -.061. Despite the difficult team numbers, Miranda McConnell continued to hit in the positives for MSUB with 9 kills and one error and a .533 hitting percentage. This was still slightly below her season average of .647, which would be tied for 10th for a single season at MSUB if she can hold the percentage for the remainder of the fall.
The Yellowjackets are 1-9 in their last ten matches against Alaska Anchorage and 10-44 all-time against UAA. They have also lost five matches in a row after beginning the season 6-0.
THE BUZZ: Miranda McConnell was named the St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game for Montana State Billings. McConnell finished with nine kills on 15 attacks along with two digs and two block assists.
UP NEXT: The Yellowjackets will be back in action in less than 24 hours for a match Saturday at 2 p.m. against the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks (2-8, 0-3 GNAC) at Alterowitz Gymnasium. Alaska Fairbanks will be looking to snap a seven-match losing streak against MSUB.