The Bobcat volleyball team hit the road and headed west to Missoula on Sunday, Feb. 14, and Monday, Feb. 15, and came back with some hardware. Going into the rivalry match the Cats were 2-2 and eager to take the inaugural Main Line Trophy back to Bozeman.
“It’s fun that the Main Line Trophy already means something to them,” said MSU head coach Daniel Jones. “We came into the match with a great mindset and we were very connected. They knew this match would be something special and they executed the game plan very well. It was a great response to last night’s win where we thought we left some assignments on the court.”
In the first match of the series, the Bobcats were led by sophomore outside hitter Kira Thomsen with 18 kills and four blocks, and senior libero Alexis Goroski posted an impressive 27 digs in the match that went five sets.
Montana took the first set after a series of runs that propelled the Griz to a 21-25 win in the first frame. The Cats took sets two and three (25-23, 25-9, respectively) but fell in the fourth, 20-25. The final set proved to be a bit nervy with 12 ties and seven lead changes and both squads holding match point.
“We didn’t play as clean as we wanted,” Jones said. “But, any Cat-Griz win is a good win. We were scrappy when we needed to be, and we made some smart shots in pressure situations. This game can come down to inches and we were resilient enough to get the win.”
In the Monday rematch, it was all Bobcats who went on to win in straight sets (3-0). The Cats dominated the Griz throughout the match, out-hitting Montana .354 to .088. Thomsen again led the team with 16 kills and Goroski notched 16 digs from Dahlberg Arena.
“For a sophomore, Kira really showed some maturity,” Jones said. “She made some big time plays and wanted the ball. I thought she was also very smart in her play.”
Montana tried to claw their way back into the match in the third set but was unable to do so after multiple scoring runs by the Bobcats. Throughout the three sets, the Bobcats kept their poise, which proved to be the difference-maker in the dominating win.
Jones held high praise for his team and their efforts after the match. “We played at a very high level,” Jones said. “We served tough, established a big block and played good defense behind the block. That’s exactly what we want to see every match.”
The Cats, sitting at 4-2 and fourth in the Big Sky Conference, will face Idaho State in Shroyer Gym on Saturday, Feb. 20, and Sunday, Feb. 21. Last year the Bobcats swept the Bengals, winning 3-1 and 3-0.