BOZEMAN – Montana State senior Hannah Scott picked up her 1,000th career kill in the opening set, but it wasn’t enough as Portland held on for a 25-23, 25-20, 20-25, 25-21 victory over the Bobcats, Friday night in Shroyer Gym.
Portland (3-2) broke away midway through the first set taking an 18-14 lead, before Montana State (2-3) rallied to even the game at 20-all on a block by Kaycee O’Dell and Jourdain Klein. The set was tied twice down the stretch before back-to-back kills by Jayde Harris gave the Pilots the cushion it needed, winning the frame on another Harris winner.
Portland took an early 5-4 advantage in the second set and never trailed the rest of the contest. MSU closed to within 18-16 on an Avery Turnage kill, but UP rattled off three straight points, eventually going up 2-0 on a ball-handling error by the Bobcats.
“You can’t give up a 2-0 lead and hope that your opponent may not play at the high of level for the rest of the match,” said MSU head coach Daniel Jones. “We showed up in set three and for three-quarters of set four, but we just couldn’t sustain the level of play we needed, too.”
Montana State outhit Portland .533 to .242 in the third set as Kira Thomsen came alive recording eight kills and a .727 attack mark to lift the Cats to the five-point win.
MSU held its largest lead of the fourth set at 20-15 on a block by Klein and Emma Pence, but again, the Pilots responded with a 7-1 run taking the lead 22-21 lead on a Keilani Mumolo service ace. Portland closed out the match scoring on two Harris kills and a Bobcat hitting error.
Thomsen paced MSU with a match-high 18 kills, while Scott added 15 to give her 1,014 for her career, making her the 16th member of MSU’s 1000-point club. Pence also posted double-figure kills with ten.
Defensively, Libby Christensen was the only Bobcat in double-digit digs with 13 saves, while Pence and Turnage led MSU at the net with five blocks, apiece.
“We grow at the edge of our abilities and outside of our comfort zone,” Jones commented. “Arkansas and Portland have taken us to that place for two consecutive nights. We have an opportunity to grow.”
Harris led Portland with 18 kills and five digs.
MSU finishes the Bobcat Classic against Utah State on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Shroyer Gym.