GRAND FORKS, N.D.-- Junior Ronni Munkeby's career-high 19 kills were not enough as visiting Montana State outlasted North Dakota 19-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-16, 15-11 Thursday night at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in the Big Sky opener for both teams.
Munkeby's career night came with help from a very strong start. The Lisbon, N.D. native recorded seven kills in the first set alone, guiding UND to a 25-19 victory. In that opening set, a spirited rally saw several point-saving North Dakota digs before a Munkeby kill and a Emily Thompson finish gave the home team the lead at 10-7.
UND (4-7, 0-1 Big Sky) remained in control the rest of that set, earning the set win in its first in league play as a member of the Big Sky Conference. UND had four blocks in the first frame alone, including back-to-back stuffs to put the home team up 18-11 at that point eventually winning the set for the early advantage.
MSU (7-2, 1-0) countered in the second set in the see-saw affair. The Bobcats jumped out to an 11-6 lead and never relinquished control to even the match as the teams headed to the locker room all square.
Out of the break, UND was re-energized, outhitting its opponent .276 to .000 in the third set. It was a quick 4-1 spurt midway through that set that gave UND the edge. Munkeby had a pair of kills in the run and Felicia Ulrich and Lisa Parlich blocked the final point in the stretch for a 16-12 lead for UND. Following a pair of timeouts and an 18-16 lead for UND, Munkeby had two kills and was in on a pair of blocks to close out the set, 25-18.
Again, it was the team that defended the south end of the court that took the victory in set four with MSU hitting .552 in that frame. The visitors led by six at 17-11 then scored the final four points to send the match to a fifth and deciding set.
Three consecutive Bobcat points after a 4-all tie was enough to propel MSU to a comfortable margin as it escaped with a road win.
Munkeby's kill total led all players while MSU had three players with double-digit kills: Sarah Horton (18), Macy Page (17) and Taylar Barney (12). A pair of UND players recorded double-doubles with setter Nikki Husfeldt tallying 50 assists and 11 digs for her first of the season while Lexi Robinson recorded her sixth with 15 kills and 10 digs. Freshman libero Lauren Clarke led all players with 25 digs.
UND continues its homestand Saturday hosting Montana at 7:00 p.m. at the Betty.
Game notes: Munkeby's former career best was an 18-kill effort against Houston Baptist on Oct. 29th of last season ... Thursday's match was the 100th in the career of UND head coach Ashley Hardee, who holds an impressive 77-23 record ... Robinson notched the first kill for UND in its first league match as the newest members of the Big Sky ... Saturday's opponent, Montana, fell 3-1 to defending BSC champion Northern Colorado Thursday night.