AKRON, Ohio – Montana State senior setter Jennifer Lundquist dished out 36 assists and added nine digs, five kills, two aces and a block to pace the Bobcats to a 25-16, 25-18, 14-25, 26-24 win over Akron to capture the championship title at the UA Invitational, Saturday night.
For her efforts, Lundquist was named tournament most valuable player.
“Jenn did a fantastic job all weekend in giving our hitters killable balls,” said MSU first-year head coach Kyle Weindel. “She also did a nice job offensively, and is being more aggressive with knowing the right time to attack.”
Montana State (4-1) cruised to a quick 2-0 lead, after out-hitting Akron (2-4) .364 to .136 from the field. MSU also used a balanced attack as Sarah Horton, Macy Page and Taylar Barney notched 10, seven and six kills, respectively over the first two sets.
“The first two sets was the best ball we’ve played to date,” Weindel said. “We did a great job digging balls and keeping them in play. We were able to stay in system and that paid off with just three hitting errors.”
The Zips turned the table in set three hitting .280 from the floor, while holding MSU to a -.071 attack mark and eight errors.
“You have to give Akron credit by coming out of intermission and taking away what we were successful at running in the first two sets,” Weindel said. “We got off to a slow start and never really regrouped in the set.”
In the fourth stanza, the Bobcats turned the momentum and jumped out to a pair of five-point advantages, the last at 15-10 following an Akron hitting miscue. The Zips rattled off a 13-4 run to stake a 23-19 lead following a service ace.
Following a Barney kill and three consecutive Akron hitting errors, MSU evened the score at 23-all. After a UA timeout the two squads traded points before the Bobcats got a kill from Lundquist coupled with another Zips hitting error to win the match.
“It’s nice to get that come-from-behind-win,” Weindel said. “Despite a spike in my blood-pressure, it really gives our kids the confidence to know that if we stay in system and battle to the very end, good things will happen.”
Horton finished the match leading all players with 15 kills, while Page added 11, Barney nine, and Eli Svisco eight. Libero Nicole Baker paced MSU with a team-high 16 digs, while Svisco also hit double-digits with ten saves.
Barney led the Bobcats at the net with a match-high seven blocks.
For their efforts, Horton, Page and Barney were also named to the all-tournament team.
MSU will play at the Ohio University Invitational next weekend in Athens. Ohio is the former home of Weindel, who spent four seasons as an assistant for the OU Bobcats.