Brooke Bray hit .316 in the loss
Oct. 4, 2012
Southern Utah hit .284 and limited Montana to its lowest hitting percentage since the opening weekend of the season in a 25-21, 25-18, 25-20 victory over the Grizzlies Thursday night at Cedar City, Utah.
The loss was the third in a row for Montana (3-13, 1-6 BSC) and the Grizzlies' seventh loss in their last eight matches. The surprising Thunderbirds (8-10, 4-3 BSC), who were picked ninth in the preseason coaches' poll, moved above .500 through seven Big Sky Conference matches.
The story Thursday was Southern Utah's dominant offense. Senior outside hitter Analaine Mailoto had a match-high 17 kills on .378 hitting and SUU's middle blockers, senior Cashaana Renfro and sophomore Annie Stradling, combined for 18 kills on .324 hitting and added eight blocks.
"Southern Utah is really good," UM coach Jerry Wagner said in a terse post-match interview. "Mailoto did what we were expecting, and their middles were just dominant.
"They had a very nice offensive night, and we just didn't look the same."
"The same" that Wagner was referring to was a team that had played spirited volleyball the previous two weekends at home. Montana went 1-3 in those matches, but all three losses came in five sets, two to a pair of the Big Sky's top teams in Portland State and Idaho State.
Junior libero Megan Murphey had her best statistical match of the season, finishing with 17 digs, an average of 5.7 per set, and junior Samantha Maas, serving for freshman Gabby Crowell, finished with three of Montana's five service aces.
"Megan dug well tonight, and Brooke was Brooke," Wagner said.
The final tie in set one came at 18-18 and in set two at 15-15. There were 24 ties and 10 lead changes in the first and third sets. The Thunderbirds jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the second set and never trailed.
"We're going to put this one behind us and move on to Northern Arizona. That's all we can do," Wagner concluded.
Northern Arizona will present an even tougher opponent Saturday night when the Grizzlies face NAU at Flagstaff. The Lumberjacks (13-3, 5-2 BSC), who won at Southern Utah in four sets earlier this season, swept Montana State Thursday night in straight sets.
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