The Southern Utah volleyball team hosted the Thunderbird Classic this weekend where they went 2-1, competing against Saint Mary’s College, Middle Tennessee State University and Boise State University.
Two Thunderbirds were named to the All-Tournament team this weekend; Stacey Hone and Katie Montgomery. Hone for her leading the T-Birds overall offensively with 35 kills and seven blocks and Montgomery for 25 kills and eight blocks.
“I am beyond pleased with this tournament,” said head coach Pete Hoyer. “From the event staff, to the fans, the teams who traveled to compete, just the whole weekend really was a success. We played some very good volleyball and also saw some very great volleyball. I credit our girls for stepping up each game no matter the line up, no matter the last set, no matter the last point, they played their hearts out.”
Saint Mary’s College Gaels (3-2)
Shannon Webb lead the Thunderbirds in kills with 16, followed by Montgomery and Hone who had 11 a piece. Freshman Sadae Cintron tallied the most assists with 26 followed by Averett who had 11. Defensively Miahna Waters had the most touches with 19 digs, Cintron added 12 of her own.
“I am proud of the way Sadae stepped up tonight” said Hoyer. “She captained the team to five sets against a very good volleyball team. I give credit to Saint Mary’s for being unbelievable competition, but I also give kudos to the entire (Thunderbird) team for grinding all five sets. Even the bench had great energy.”
The first set opened closely as the score held within three until the 11-7 mark. The Thunderbirds kept their edge over the Gaels until the 21-21 mark. Saint Mary’s took their first lead of the set at 22-21 where they went on a two-point run. Play stayed tight as the score knotted once again at 24-24, 25-25 and 26-26. A back-row kill from Webb put the Thunderbirds at match point (27-26) with Thea Leiataua to serve. Leiataua ended the match with an ace, giving set one to the Thunderbirds.
Saint Mary’s opened the second set with three quick points but the Thunderbirds brought things back within one at 6-5. SUU went on a 4-0 run to put themselves atop at 10-7. The Gaels fired back with a four point run of their own which gave them the lead 11-10. After falling behind by four, Webb went back to serve for the T-Birds as they made their way back to within reach. The score tied at 13-13. After back and forth play, it was a solo block from Katie Montgumery that led the Thunderbirds on their way to a two point run at 20-18. Following a Gael timeout the Thunderbirds ran away with the game, taking the set 25-21.
Saint Mary’s took their largest lead of the match at 7-1 to start the third set. SUU made a service rotation, putting Sarah Gasper back to serve. Gasper’s back-to-back aces put the Thunderbirds within five at 10-5. It wasn’t until 19-16 when the Thunderbirds were able to break the five point lead that the Gaels held up to that point. Despite the comeback effort, Saint Mary’s took the set 25-21.
After 5′ 4″ Cintron won a joust at the net, the Thunderbirds took the lead of the fourth set at 8-7. The lead didn’t differ more than three points either way until 18-14, Gaels. SUU called a timeout at 22-17 in effort to ice the SMC server, Alexsa Parker, and make a comeback. Not being able to catch the Gaels, SUU fell in the fourth 25-17.
The Thunderbirds capitalized on a service error by Parker and to take the lead 1-0 in the fifth set. The score knotted at 3-3 where a kill from Montgomery put the T-Birds ahead 4-3. Montgomery and Webb followed with a block, extending SUU’s lead to 5-3. A ball handling and attack error pushed SUU’s lead to four. After switching sides, freshman Raegan Ashby swung away from the right side making it 11-6, then followed with a block giving SUU their largest lead at 12-6. An attack error was the final point to give SUU the set 15-7, winning the match 3-2.
Middle Tennessee State (3-0)
Hone led the Thunderbirds in kills with 13 in their 3-0 sweep over Middle Tennessee State. Webb followed close behind with 12 kills. Dowell tallied five blocks for her second match in a row; she also added seven kills. Corrin Peterson set a career high of assists with 34. Waters held down the defensive end with 17 digs.
The Thunderbirds crossed the 10 point mark first in the set one, but the MTSU Blue Raiders weren’t far behind as they knotted the score at 11-11. As play continued, several big blocks from Hone and Peterson put SUU up by four at 17-13, causing the Blue Raiders to call a timeout. Coming out of the time out MTSU went on a 3-0 run to catch up to the Thunderbirds 18-17. SUU then took their turn initiating a timeout which resulted in an immediate kill from Montgomery, putting the T-Birds up by two. The Thunderbirds ran away with the set, separating themselves by seven for a set win, 25-18.
A kill from Webb at the 5-5 mark gave SUU the start to their first run of the set, which put the Thunderbirds up by four before MTSU was able to side out. A block from Dowell pushed the Thunderbirds lead to five (12-7), encouraging the Blue Raiders to strategize. Coming out of the timeout, SUU continued to separate themselves, extending their lead to 15-7. The Thunderbirds held the Blue Raiders to only 14 points as they took the second set 25-14.
Opening the match with a 4-1 lead, the Thunderbirds continued play, going on a four point run to push their lead to 9-3. Without much contest, SUU continued to run with the set, finishing at 25-12, sweeping MTSU 3-0.
Boise State University (0-3)
Hone led the Thunderbirds offense with 11 kills in their match against the Broncos. Waters added three aces and nine digs. Peterson tallied 30 assists.
The T-Birds opened the first set on a 5-0 scoring run, giving themselves a bit of breathing room from the Broncos. SUU continued to hold their lead, becoming the first to hit the 10 point mark at 10-5. The Broncos made a 4-0 run to knot the score at 12-12. Boise took their first lead of the game at 14-13, but a kill from Hone quickly put things back on the Thunderbirds side of the net. SUU fell behind by three at 18-15 but a kill followed by an ace from Webb pulled the T-Birds within one. The Broncos continued to lead until set completion at 25-20.
After switching sides the Thunderbirds went up 4-0 to start the second set. The Broncos crept their way back within one at 7-6. SUU’s lead teetered between one or two points until Boise caught up to the Thunderbirds at 16-16. The score knotted again at 17-17 and 18-18. It was the Broncos who hit the 20 point mark first as the Thunderbirds trailed by two. SUU wasn’t able to rally back, as Boise took the set 25-20.
The Broncos took their first early lead of the match at 5-1 and continued to lead the Thunderbirds until the 13-2 mark where Hoyer called a timeout. The Thunderbirds were not able to make a big enough comeback, falling to Boise 25-14.
“Boise is a very steady volleyball team,” said Hoyer. “They bent but they didn’t break and that’s what we have to work on. Being down a few points doesn’t mean we are out for the set, it just means we are bending a bit. I am glad we were able to have this matchup.”
The Thunderbirds will travel to Boca Raton, Florida next weekend, September 13-15, to compete in the FAU Owls Classic.
Story and Photo Courtesy of: SUU Athletics