Hosting the University of Montana in what was their third straight home match, the Thunderbirds fell to the Grizzlies 0-3 (25-16, 25-21, 25-16). The loss drops Southern Utah University to 2-7 in Big Sky Conference play and 10 in conference standings.
Montana put the first point up on the board, but the Thunderbirds were able to keep it even early on in the first set. The Grizzlies were able to put together a run midway through the set that established a lead too much for the Thunderbirds to overcome. This has become a pattern throughout SUU’s last four losses. The Grizzlies took the first set 25-16.
Stacey Hone got things going for SUU to begin the second set. The redshirt senior scored the first point of the set on a kill assisted by senior Corrin Peterson. The Thunderbirds were able to jump out to an early 10-4 lead in the set, but it was not enough. Montana came back in part due to attacking errors from SUU. In what was the closest set of the match, the Thunderbirds committed nine attack errors leading Montana to a 25-21 set victory.
The third set saw the Thunderbirds unable to establish any momentum with their backs against the wall. Again, they struggled to put together a run of any kind — never scoring more than two points in a row. In a similar fashion, the Grizzlies capitalized on SUU’s errors late in the set and completed the sweep 25-16.
SUU hit just .098 on the night compared to Montana’s .333. The Thunderbirds also committed 22 attack errors throughout the match compared to 15 from Montana. Hone led SUU offensively with eight kills and Peterson was busy with 14 assists. On defense, junior middle hitter Raegen Ashby finished with eight blocks.
With seven matches left in the season, the Thunderbirds face an uphill battle if they hope to finish as the eighth seed and make the playoffs. Their next match will be Saturday, Oct. 23 at noon when the Montana State University Bobcats come to Cedar City. It will be the last of SUU’s four-match home stretch.
Story By: Christian Esparza Sports@suunews.net
Photo Courtesy of SUU Athletics