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Preview: MSUB Volleyball heads to West Region Showcase

By Braedon Cain

Editors Note: This is a release from MSUB Athletics.

BILLINGS, Mont. – The Montana State University Billings volleyball team heads to San Diego, California from Thursday, September 12 to Saturday, September 14 to take on four teams in the West Region Volleyball Showcase. Opponents include California State University Chico, University of California San Diego, Concordia University (California), and Academy of Art. All four contests will be at RIMAC Arena with the matchup against UC San Diego being aired live on ESPN 3.

LAST TIME OUT: The ‘Jackets started the regular season in the Chadron State Tournament last weekend and wound up 1-3 after falling in two close five set matches. Saturday, MSU Billings shutout Fort Hays State University 3-0 (26-24, 25-22, 25-17) for their first victory of the 2019 season. The Yellowjackets had victory snatched away late in the following game, as they fell to Chadron State University 3-2 (25-23, 25-16, 20-25, 23-25, 15-13).

“I felt we did a good job of staying resilient,” said head coach Casey Williams. “We had multiple comebacks last weekend and I thought we showed a lot of fight. We had a lot of moving pieces in the lineup and now we’ve had a few individuals emerge in the starting roles. Now we can start to move forward hoping to find more consistency in the tournament this weekend. It’s always fun to go play the California schools because it’s a different type of volleyball. It’s a good opportunity for our team to do some team bonding while we are down there as well so looking at the trip as a whole, I’m really looking forward to it.”

MONCK OFF TO STRONG START: Junior right side hitter Bayli Monck played well in her 2019 debut. Monck totaled 48 kills in four matches (3.00 k/set) and registered a .237 hitting percentage. She also had three service aces, 44 digs, and five blocks. Against South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Monck put up a team high (and career high) 20 kills and 19 digs. She earned her second double-double of the weekend against Chadron State with 16 kills and 18 digs. Last season, the Colorado Springs native played all 30 matches and had two double-doubles. She has already matched that total one week into the new season.

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: With two years of community college volleyball experience, transfer junior Joelle Mahowald found success early for the Yellowjackets in her debut with the team. A 6-foot-1-inch middle blocker, Mahowald managed 12.0 total blocks in four matches last weekend, including a four block performance in the season opener against South Dakota Mines. Mahowald also contributed to the offense with 35 kills, including 15 against South Dakota Mines and 13 against Chadron State.

LIBERO TRACKER: Coach Williams wasn’t willing to show her hand in the pre-season on which new player she thought would win the libero/defensive specialist position on the team, but over the weekend, freshman Makayla Baca (Santa Fe, New Mexico) made her case for the job. In 13 sets, Baca posted 60 total digs (4.62 digs per set) and went north of 20 digs against South Dakota Mines and Chadron State over the weekend. Her defensive fortitude and ball pursuit were evident in the Yellowjacket back row but pressure still may exist to perform with freshmen Amya Rodriguez, Marissa Logozzo, and Molly Packer all biding their time at the same position.

SET UP FOR SUCCESS: Veteran setter Alexa Smythe split time with freshman Hannah Hashbarger at setter at Chicoine Center last weekend and both put up respectable numbers. Smythe missed her career high by three assists against South Dakota Mines with 52 in the five set loss to the Hardrockers. Hashbarger played nine sets with 75 total assists, including 46 against Chadron State College on Saturday.

Scouting California State University, Chico

Game Day: Thursday, September 12 – 10 a.m.

2019 Record: 1-3, 0-0 PacWest, 0-0 home, 0-2 away, 1-1 neutral

2018 Record: 14-12, 7-11 PacWest, 5-5 home, 3-6 away, 6-1 neutral

Head Coach: Cody Hein (17th season)

The Wildcats finished fifth in the conference last season and return two starters in 2019. Two time second team All-CCAA selection Bekah Boyle (OH, Senior) is a key returner after posting 324 kills in 2018. Kim Wright (MH, Senior) was also second team all-conference with 273 kills, 86 blocks, and 35 service aces. She entered the season with 255 blocks and 113 service aces and currently leads the squad with 61 kills in 18 sets (3.39 kills per set).

Chico State played four matches in the Hawaii Challenge to begin the regular season and went 1-3 with losses to Hawaii at Hilo, Hawaii Pacific, and Chaminade University. On September 5, the Wildcats defeated Minot State University 3-2 in Honolulu.

Chico State currently ranks last in the CCAA with a .172 hitting percentage. They are also ninth in blocks (.167), 13th in service aces (1.00), and 10th in digs (13.56). The Wildcats last appearance in the West Regional Championship was 2016.

Scouting University of California, San Diego

Game Day: Thursday, September 12 – 8 p.m. on ESPN 3

2019 Record: 2-2, 0-0 CCAA, 0-0 home, 1-0 away, 1-2 neutral

2018 Record: 11-12, 7-10 CCAA, 5-4 home, 4-6 away, 2-2 neutral

Head Coach: Ricci Luyties (10th season)

UC San Diego is in its final season as a Division II team in the CCAA as they begin a four year transition to Division I as a member of the Big West Conference in 2024-25. This fall, the Tritons were picked to finish third of the six teams in the conference’s south division.

Head coach Ricci Luyties has led the team to at least 20 victories four times in his nine seasons and reached the NCAA post-season five times. After finishing below .500 for the first time in over five years, the Tritons returned five starters including Gina Cortesi (Junior, OH), Jessica Rieble (Senior, OH), Brie Severino (Sophomore, S), Sydney Tekstra (Senior, OH), and Cindy Tran (Senior, OH). Two primary liberos also returning are Susanna Limb (sophomore) and Alyson Penrose (Junior).

At the Seawolf Invitational in Anchorage, Alaska, the Tritons picked up wins over Concord (3-0) and Alaska Anchorage (3-1) but lost to Regis University (3-2) and Biola University (3-2).

Scouting Concordia University (California)

Game Day: Friday, September 13 – 2:30 p.m.

2019 Record: 3-1, 0-0 PacWest, 0-0 home, 0-0 away, 3-1 neutral

2018 Record: 10-20, 9-13 PacWest, 6-13 home, 4-7 away, 0-0 neutral

Head Coach: Paula Weishoff (9th season)

The Eagles won three matches in the Seaside Invitational on opening weekend including a five-set victory over fellow Great Northwest Athletic Conference school Seattle Pacific University. In 2018, Concordia began the season 1-8 but rebounded in the second half to finish 10-20 overall. They return 13 letter winners including PacWest honorable mentions Clarice Buchanan and Patience O’Neal. Buchanan anchored the back row with 389 digs while O’Neal finished second on the squad in kills with 221 despite missing eight games due to injury.

This year, the Eagles were picked to finish sixth of 12 teams in the PacWest pre-season poll. Head coach Paula Weishoff is a three-time Olympian and enters the 2019 season with a 214-80 all-time record and is the winningest coach in program history.

Scouting Academy of Art

Game Day: Saturday, September 14 – 12 p.m.

2019 Record: 0-3, 0-0 PacWest, 0-0 home, 0-1 away, 0-2 neutral

2018 Record: 1-29, 1-21 PacWest, 1-14 home, 0-12 away, 0-3 neutral

Head Coach: Allen McCreary (2nd season)

Academy of Art lost all three opening matches in the Toro Classic last weekend in Carson, California and failed to win a set versus LaSierra University, Humboldt State University, and California State Dominguez Hills.

The Yellowjackets defeated Academy of Art 3-0 on August 31, 2018 in San Francisco. Maddi Vigil had seven kills to lead the team while Monck and Skylar Reed also played three sets apiece.

Kiersten Kerch as the only returning senior for the Urban Knights. Kerch logged 130 kills and 50 blocks as a junior and played both sides. She is joined by six juniors that include outside hitter Ashley Pawlak, defensive specialist Michaela Charette, and middle blocker Sadie Emery. Outside hitter Marianna Figueroa Ferreira, middle blocker Carly Evetts, and libero Catharina Brant Bambirra are all transfers this season from Odessa College. In 2018, Pawlak led the team in kills per set (2.53) and ranked second in digs per set (2.89).

HOW TO FOLLOW: The Yellowjackets will be broadcasted live on ESPN 3 on September 12 against UC San Diego. The remaining three matches in the West Region Volleyball Showcase can be viewed online.

IF YOU’RE GOING: Ticket and parking information can be found at The West Region Volleyball Showcase Webpage. Other schools participating in the event include Academy of Art, Chico State, Concordia (California), Saint Martin’s, and UC San Diego.

Wordcount: 1468

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