Weber State volleyball into title match with heart-stopping 3-2 win over Montana State
OGDEN — Senior outside hitter Rylin Adams returned to the court at Swenson Gym after briefly going to the locker room Friday night and, as she emerged to do a postgame interview with the Big Sky Conference social media team, Weber State fans erupted and some yelled “Go Ry!”
She returned a timid wave to the crowd, an act that belied the tenacity of what she and her Wildcats had just done.
No. 1 seed Weber State extended the nation’s longest home winning streak to 27 matches, gutting out a 3-2 win over No. 4 Montana State in the Big Sky tournament semifinals.
“You can’t be perfect when you’re playing Montana State and they’re playing at that level. It was an incredible volleyball game, both teams just throwing their heart on the floor,” WSU head coach Jeremiah Larsen said “I thought we were pretty resilient at times and fought through some challenges.”
Adams had 25 kills, matching her season high and the top mark for any Big Sky player this season.
“Rylin was clutch all night long. She was a rock star,” Larsen said.
Weber won sets one and three rather convincingly, 25-20 and 25-14. Montana State clawed out a 27-25 win in the second set and took early control in the fourth to go up 15-9. Weber State fought back, and when Adams swung a kill from the back row and Dani Nay found the back corner, it was 23-22. But MSU closed the deal 25-22, sending it to a fifth set.
To boot, the Bobcats took a 2-0 lead to start the final frame.
Larsen said Adams, Nay and Sam Schiess all answered the call, as did the team’s overall ability to receive serve.
Larsen used a coach’s challenge to get his team a two-point swing early in the fifth. An Ashlyn Power swing went out of bounds, but Larsen challenged that Montana State had tipped the ball. After a lengthy video review of at least two minutes, the call was reversed and Weber took a 6-5 lead.
Still, it stayed close all the way to 11-11 before Riley Weinert found the court for a kill.
That’s when Schiess rose up, literally. Her blocks accounted for the final three WSU points.
Schiess combined with Adams for a block to go up 13-11 and with Power for a 14-12 lead.
On match point, MSU tried to send back Adams’ serve over the middle and Schiess was there, one-on-one, and roofed it to the hardwood for the victory.
“Having the type of kids we have — we have some older players who have been around the block a little bit,” Larsen said. “That was a big deal. Kids like Rylin and Sam and Ash and Dani … it’s nice to have some experience on that end.”
Weber hit .280 as a team. Nay finished with 13 kills and Schiess had 12. Baylee Bodily assisted on eight blocks and Schiess seven. Power dished 52 assists and Makayla Sorensen totaled 25 digs.
The win sets up a third consecutive title-game tilt with Northern Colorado, who defeated Portland State 3-1 earlier Friday. The two teams split the last two title matches 1-1 — one at Sacramento State, the other at Northern Colorado.
Larsen said he hopes his players get some sleep. He knows his coaching staff won’t get any.
The championship match is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday in Swenson Gym, and will stream on ESPN+.