Posted: Oct 11, 2013 10:49 PM by Ted Dawson
- It was bound to happen. Almost seven years to the date, the Montana State volleyball team snapped a 13-match losing streak to Northern Arizona with a 25-23, 23-25, 19-25, 25-18, 15-13 victory over the Lumberjacks, Friday night in front of 1,034 fans on Dig Pink night in Shroyer Gym.
Montana State (4-14, 2-5) rode the arm of freshman Kennadie Clute, who posted a career and Big Sky Conference -high 31 kills, while sophomore middle blocker Natalee Godfrey also pounded out a career-best with 16 kills, while adding a team-best five blocks.
The last time a Bobcat team had defeated Northern Arizona (11-5, 5-2) was Oct. 10, 2006.
"I think we were tired of losing," Clute said. "We fought to get to set five, which is always stressful, but we were able to get a lead and didn't let them come back. We really came together as a team."
MSU opened the match breaking away from 21-all with three consecutive points, including kills via Clute and Godfrey. NAU pulled to within 24-23, before Clute and Godfrey combined on a block to win the set.
NAU took advantage of 20 hitting errors by the Bobcats in sets two and three and out-hit MSU .300 to .113 to go up in the match 2-1.
"Northern Arizona is an outstanding team, but I told our kids that we were the better team tonight and that we needed to start playing and acting like it," said second-year head coach Kyle Weindel. "I'm really proud of the way they responded. We made some big plays and kept the lead in set five, and that was the difference."
Montana State opened the final stanza with a 3-0 run and built the advantage to 7-3 following a Clute kill. Northern Arizona pulled to within one point on three occasions, the last at 14-13, before Clute put an exclamation point on her performance with the final kill of the match.
"We practice weekly simulating set five and not giving up points," Weindel said. "I really liked the way we played with confidence and took charge."
Also contributing to the Bobcat effort was freshman setter Anna Sykora, who dished out 61 assists and added 11 digs for her fourth double-double of the season. Another freshman, Loni Kreun, recorded her fifth double-double with 10 kills and 12 digs. Defensively, MSU was led by Nicole Baker and Kasey Schlatter with 24 and 12 digs, respectively.
As a team, the Bobcats held advantages in kills, assists, hitting percentage and digs.
NAU was guided by Janae Vander Ploeg with 18 kills and 13 digs.
Montana State will host Southern Utah on Saturday night.