"This was just a great team effort tonight," head coach Debby Baker said after the match. "Our block was phenomenal tonight and that really helped us out."
Freshman Ann Clappier and senior Lusia Angilau tied for the team lead in blocks with nine, marking a new career high for Clappier. Annie Stradling was just behind the duo with eight and Joanna Christenson logged six, both career highs.
Southern Utah opened the match with a Kyle Schofield kill and continued from there, building an 18-14 lead late into the frame. Montana State then made its move with a 7-2 run to take a 21-20 lead, but a Taylor Heine kill on the next rally ended the run and tied the set at 21-21. However, the Bobcats closed out the set with a 4-1 run to take it 25-22 and with it a 1-0 lead. MSU was carried in the set by Zoe Gogan who had the hot hand, hitting .818 with nine kills on 11 swings and no errors.
The Thunderbirds came back in the second set and, despite trailing throughout most the early goings, tied the frame 13-13 and then took the lead 16-13 as part of a six-point run. SUU had its first set point at 24-18 on a Schofield kill, but back-to-back points by MSU put the score at 24-20 and prompted a Southern Utah timeout. The T-Birds came out of the break and tied the match at 1-1 with a closing kill from Clappier to take the set 25-20.
Southern Utah made its run at the same moment in the third set, turning a 13-10 deficit into a 19-13 lead behind strong serving from Stradling. Montana State, once again, fought off four Thunderbird set points, coming back from 24-18 to make the score 24-22, but a final kill by Schofield wrapped up the set for the home side, 25-22.
SUU rolled in the fourth set, hitting a match-high .348 with 10 kills on 23 swings with only two errors while also tallying seven blocks. The performance helped the T-Birds build a lead of as much as 12, 19-7, and carried the team to the 25-15 victory.
In addition to leading the team in blocks, Clappier also finished the night leading the team in kills with a career-high 15. Four Thunderbirds logged double-digit digs with Sariah Peleaz leading the way with 20, followed by Alissa Youart and Jenna Bradfield with 12 and Hailey Moore with 11.
Southern Utah will host its home finale on Saturday night when the Thunderbirds face Montana. The match is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and will include a Senior Day ceremony following the match, honoring the 2013 senior class of Schofield, Youart, Moore and Angilau. Fans can follow the match online with live stat and live video links at www.suutbirds.com.