BOZEMAN, Mont. — In a back-and-forth match that saw 21 ties, the Seattle U volleyball team were victorious over Montana State in a fifth-set thriller winning 25-22, 20-25, 25-17,19-25, 15-11. The Redhawks, which improved to 7-5 on the year, were led by double-double efforts from Eve Kerschenbaum who finished with 16 kills and 10 digs, while Rachel Stark had 15 kills and 19 digs. Julia Queiroz had a big night with 10 kills and eight blocks.
"I'm really how the team competed," said Seattle U head volleyball coach James Finley. "I thought we did well and am proud of that stayed focused late. It was another great team effort that saw several different players contribute."
Seattle U trailed 5-2 early in the first before taking the lead behind a 7-1 run. Midway through the opening set the Redhawks remained out front as a 5-0 run pushed the score to 17-11 and saw Montana State burn its second timeout. The Bobcats however responded with a 6-1 rally trimming the Seattle U advantage to one, 19-18. MSU continued to linger late but the hopes of a comeback were erased with an assisted block from Stark and Queiroz.
Neither side were above .200 hitting in the first, the Redhawks though held an advantage converting at a .167-clip while the defense held MSU to .062 hitting in the opening frame.
The Redhawks used a 4-0 and 4-1 run in the second to build a 12-8 lead. Montana State though came back with a 7-1 rally pushing itself to a 15-13 advantage. Trailing 17-14, Seattle U pulled within one as Stark and Lauren McCabe teamed up for a block, trimming the deficit to 17-16. The Redhawks continued to battle but the Bobcats pulled away late en route tying the match at one-set apiece.
Seattle U jumped out to a 7-4 lead to start the third before kills from Stark, McCabe and Kerschenbaum pushed the score to 10-6. The Bobcats though fought back using a 5-1 rally to tie the frame at 11-all, before leveling the score again at 15. It was all Redhawks from there however as a 3-0 spurt gave SU some breathing room at 18-15 en route to closing the set with seven unanswered points including back-to-back aces from Tijana Milojevic.
After hitting .104 in the second, the SU attack were more efficient in the third converting at .229-clip. The Redhawk defense meanwhile was stingy holding MSU to .053 hitting in the third, while adding four team blocks pushing their total to 12.0.
Despite brief leads of 5-4 and 6-5, the Redhawks spent most of the fourth set playing from behind as they were held to .111 hitting, committing a match-high eight attack errors. Seattle U forced a tie at 13-13, but the Bobcats began to slowly pull away thanks in part to a 3-0 spurt as they assumed a 19-15 lead. Back-to-back SU tallies trimmed the deficit late for the effort was not enough to overcome a seven-point deficit as it fell, 25-19.
Montana State continued to ride the wave of momentum early into the fifth as it sprinted to a 4-0 lead early. Down 6-2, Stark and Kerschenbaum landed kills as part of a 3-0 spurt, closing the deficit to 6-5. After trailing 8-6 at the turn, the Redhawk attack found their rhythm and notched four unanswered to take a 10-8 lead. Stark led the push with a pair of kills while Kerschenbaum added another.
Down the stretch, MSU forced ties at 10-10 and 11-11, but the effort fell short as Stark registered kills number 14 and 15 of the match, giving Seattle U a 13-11 advantage. The Redhawks then closed the book on the Bobcats with back-to-back kills from Sanchez.
Seattle U will return to action on Friday as it opens the UC Riverside Classic against Penn and Cal State Fullerton, before closing its non-conference slate with UC Riverside on Saturday.