"Tonight was really bittersweet and there was a lot of emotion," head coach Debby Baker said. "We just didn't put balls away and they did a great job of digging the balls that we would hit."
Southern Utah opened the match with a kill from senior Lusia Angilau, but the lead quickly disappeared as the Grizzlies countered with a five-point run, taking 5-1 advantage. The margin continued to grow for Montana until a three-point run by Southern Utah brought the teams to within two at 11-9. However, it was as close as the Thunderbirds would get, eventually falling 25-15 and giving Montana a 1-0 lead.
Montana led start-to-finish in the second set, but were threatened by Thunderbird runs, keeping the score to within two throughout most of the frame. A service ace by senior Hailey Moore put the T-Birds down two, 21-19, late in the stanza, but four straight points by the Grizzlies closed out the set, 25-19, and gave the visitors the 2-0 lead.
Montana scored back-to-back points in the third set to take an early lead, but the Thunderbirds stayed close and tied it at 6-6. The Grizzlies then made a three-point push to take a lead and later had their first match point at 24-17. SUU extended the match to 24-21 with four straight points, including a pair of kills from senior Alissa Youart. However a final error by Southern Utah gave Montana the match, 25-21.
Senior Kylie Schofield tied freshman Ann Clappier for the team lead in kills during the match as the duo each notched nine. Clappier also proved to be the most efficient hitter, recording a .421 clip with the nine kills on 19 attempts and only one error. Freshman Joanna Christenson logged her team-best ninth double-double of the season with 28 assists and 10 digs. Fellow freshman, Sariah Pelaez, led Southern Utah's defense with 20 digs and was joined in double digits by Moore who also tallied 10 digs.
SUU will close out its 2013 season next week when the Thunderbirds travel to Northern Colorado and North Dakota. The matches are scheduled for Thursday and Saturday with live video and live stat links available online at www.suutbirds.com.