Vandal volleyball wrapped up the 2017 regular season by recording its 10th sweep of the season in quick fashion, putting away Montana State Saturday night in Bozeman and eliminating the Bobcats from postseason contention.
With the win, Idaho (17-10, BSC 12-4) records its 12th Big Sky victory of the season, its best mark since rejoining the conference in 2014.
Junior outside hitter Sarah Sharp led the contest in kills, striking down 13 with .500 efficiency. The Vandals accomplished their best attacking percentage of the season, outhitting Montana State (10-15, BSC 6-10) by a substantial margin, .406 to .168.
In the first, it appeared as if the Vandals would be competing in another back-and-forth contest, as the lead was swapped five times and the teams were at deadlock 13 times.
But thanks to Sharp’s eight of the team’s 16 total kills on the set, Idaho sprang out to a late 3-0 run. Junior middle-blockers Reece Carman and DeVonne Ryter combined on a stuff to give Idaho set-point at 24-20 before Carman dropped home the set-winning kill to give the Vandals a 25-21 win.
Idaho had an outstanding second set, hitting .481 while only committing one attacking error in 27 attempts. A series of runs, capped off by a kill from senior middle-blocker Torrin Crawford and a combined block from Sharp and Ryter gave the Vandals set-point at 24-17. Sharp plunked down her 10th kill of the night to give Idaho the set, 25-18.
The Vandals again hit well in the third, recording a .400 percentage on the set largely on the backs of Carman, Sharp and Straw, who combined for seven of Idaho’s 15 kills.
Five separate runs of three or more points squashed Montana State’s attempts to mount a comeback. After going up 16-10, Idaho controlled the rest of the set, eventually putting a 25-20 stamp on the game with a kill from sophomore outside hitter Delaney Hopen.
Idaho’s blocking played a major role in the win. The Vandals sent back nine balls compared to only one for the Bobcats. Idaho also committed just six errors compared to 19 Montana State missteps.
Junior setter Haylee Mathis equalled Montana State’s entire roster with 37 assists and Ryter matched her career high in blocks for the third time this season, ending with eight.
Bobcat outside hitter Natalie Passeck finished second in blocks with 12 while Vandal junior outside hitter cand Ryter totaled seven and eight kills, respectively.
With the win, Idaho clinched the three-seed in next week’s Big Sky Conference Tournament.
The Vandals will return home to prepare for the postseason, which begins at Sacramento State Thursday.
Colton Clark can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @coltonclark95