Career Highs Abound in Five-Set Loss
Aug. 26, 2017
BOZEMAN, Mont.--Six Gonzaga volleyball players set significant career marks Saturday night at Montana State, but it was the Bobcats who came away victorious as the hosts won in five sets at Shroyer Gym in Bozeman.
Redshirt junior middle blocker Kaylie Loewen set the biggest career mark, ending the night with 20 kills, eight beyond her previous high. She also hit .531 on the night. Joining Loewen with personal bests in kills were freshman Chapin Gray with 11, junior Tiyana Hallums with 10, and freshman Sarah Penner with five.
Sophomore setter Jenna Kuehn contributed 29 assists on the night, three past her old best of 26 from opening weekend last season. The Eugene, Ore., native also added 11 digs for her first double-double of the year and set more personal records with five blocks and four kills as well. Junior Marit Thorkildsen, meanwhile, made her first-ever start as libero memorable with a team-leading 19 digs.
Down 2-1 in the match and trailing 22-18 in the fourth set, the Bulldogs were three points away from elimination before rallying to force the fifth. Penner halted a three-point Montana State run with a pair of kills while GU added three more points for a 22-23 set advantage. The teams traded the next three points, but Loewen ended the frame with two kills to even the match.
In the fifth, Montana State used a 5-1 run in the middle of the frame to pull ahead by three. The Zags rallied within a point at 10-9, but the hosts took the final five points of the match to clinch the win, their first of the season.
Natalie Passeck led Montana State with 17 kills, and two more Bobcats added 14 apiece. Sydney Mathison also tallied a double with 50 assists and 11 digs.
"We were more composed throughout the match tonight than in yesterday's but still haven't found our rhythm," said Gonzaga head coach Diane Nelson. "There are lots of freshmen learning the level of competition. As long as we learn, we are making progress."
Saturday's match ended the Montana State Bobcat Classic. Illinois won the tournament with a 3-0 record, and the Fighting Illini's Ali Bastianelli was named tournament MVP. Loewen was Gonzaga's representative on the All-Tournament Team after 38 kills, 11 blocks, and a .275 attack percentage in three matches. Passeck was Montana State's honoree.
The Zags (0-3) will now return to Spokane for their own Gonzaga Invitational, held inside the Martin Centre. That tournament will feature Arizona State, Nevada, and Portland State. The Bulldogs begin the home schedule Friday, Sept. 1, at 7:00 p.m. against ASU.
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