Capri Richardson had four blocks in the five-set loss
Aug. 31, 2012
Montana hit a season-high .205 and junior Kayla Reno had a season-best 16 kills on .283 hitting, but it wasn't enough to get the Grizzlies their first victory of the season Friday night.
Montana dropped its second consecutive five-set decision, this one against Utah State to open play at San Diego State's Holiday Inn Mission Valley Aztec Challenge.
The Grizzlies, who dropped to 0-4 on the season, jumped out to a 2-1 lead, but the Aggies responded with a pair of strong sets to close out the victory, 22-25, 25-18, 24-26, 25-15, 15-5.
Utah State, which hit .364 over the final two sets, improved to 4-1.
"We had long stretches tonight when we played better than we have at any point this season, and we were up against a team every bit as good as the teams we faced last weekend," UM coach Jerry Wagner said.
"We did some good things for long periods of time and had them on their heels."
Montana hit better than .300 in the opening set for the second straight match, a positive development in a still winless season. The Grizzlies' .364 first-set hitting percentage Friday allowed them to break free of an 18-18 deadlock and pick up a 25-22 win against a team that had dropped only four sets in its first four matches.
Reno had five of her kills in the opening set on .308 hitting.
After Utah State evened the match with a 25-18 win in the second set -- the Aggies scored the final seven points after the teams had their 10th tie of the set at 18-18 -- Montana put itself in position for its first victory.
Another tight set was tied at 24 before a Reno kill gave the Grizzlies set point. USU setter Paige Neves appeared to even the score at 25, but the up official called an attack error on the play, putting the Grizzlies up 2-1.
Similar to last Saturday night, when Pacific came roaring back from a 2-0 hole, Montana never gave itself a chance in sets four and five.
The Aggies jumped out 6-3 in the fourth and, after Montana had pulled within 9-8, steadily pulled away. The fifth set was over before it was halfway done. Utah State built leads of 7-1 and 11-2, with the Grizzlies putting away just two kills on 14 swings.
"The key to the match was that they put consistent pressure on us, and we are not yet to the point where we are responding to other teams' runs with a concerted enough effort," Wagner explained.
Montana had its best offensive balance of the season and posted both blocking and digging numbers similar to Utah State's.
"Kayla Reno was awesome, and Brooke came through in the middle," Wagner said. "We are having more people getting to the marks they need to get to."
Rachel Orr, who hit .419, and Shay Sorensen, who hit .270, both had 17 kills for Utah State, which hit .292 for the match. Neves totaled 58 assists.
Montana will play a pair of matches Saturday. The Grizzlies will face San Diego State (3-0) at 1 p.m. (MT) and Sacred Heart (1-3) at 6 p.m. (MT). The Aztecs hit .363 and beat the Pioneers in Friday's late match, 25-17, 25-17, 25-20.
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