Brawl of the Wild (copy)

Montana State outside hitter Hannah Scott (16) jumps to save the ball during a volley last season.

Montana State hit a season-high .290 from the field, led by outside hitters Kira Thomsen and Evi Wilson, en route to a 29-27, 25-22, 25-19 sweep of Texas-El Paso on Friday evening in its first match of the Montana-Farmers State Bank Invitational in Dahlberg Arena.

Thomsen paced MSU with her second straight 16-kill match while hitting .448 from the field and adding seven digs. Wilson finished with ten kills and a .391 attack mark while Hannah Scott posted nine kills and ten digs.

“The big up we have this year is Hannah Scott, who has found her rhythm on the right side,” MSU head coach Daniel Jones said. “She hits a ball that is hard to dig, and then you have Kira and Evi, who similarly hit balls that are very hard to dig, and they’ve found their rhythm as well.

“It’s a serving and passing game, and I think particularly at the end of the second set and third set, we did a nice job of locating our serves and putting them under a lot of pressure, and then our block came into play,” Jones added.

For the match, MSU limited UTEP to a .140 attack mark. The Bobcats held advantages in kills, assists, digs and blocks. Defensively, Allyssa Rizzo registered a match-high 13 digs, while Emma Pence finished with a match-high seven blocks.

“It was a complete effort from start to finish in the sense there was no anxiety,” Jones said. “We felt we were in control the majority of the match, and that’s a great feeling."

MSU (3-4) jumped out early in the opening stanza, taking a 10-3 advantage. UTEP (4-5) battled back and took a 20-18 lead following a Bobcat net violation.

The game was tied four times before MSU fought off a pair of Miner set points in the waning moments. The Bobcats had a pair of set points of their own that UTEP overcame. With the set even at 27, a Thomsen kill and a block by Allie Lynch and Pence gave MSU the win.

“I think anytime you can establish authority off the first serve is usually beneficial,” Jones said. “But credit to UTEP, they’re a very good volleyball team and came back hard. It was satisfying squeaking that first set out, and we were able to carry a little bit of momentum into the second and third set.”

After trading points to begin the second frame, MSU took a 3-2 lead and held it for the remainder of the set. A Scott kill followed by a UTEP service error gave the Bobcats a 24-22 lead. Scott closed out the game on a kill off the top of the block.

In the final set, the Bobcats took control early with their serving game and established their block to pull away from the Miners with a 4-1 run midway through the stanza, highlighted by a Pence block. Scott closed out the match with a kill out of the middle.

“It was really satisfying getting a win in three,” Jones said. “It was a great match for our outsides hitting over .390 each and even Hannah at .273 is really a satisfying accomplishment for them. A lot of the credit should go to our middles for giving them those opportunities. There was a lot of one-on-ones and one-on-none hits for our pins because the middles were working hard in transition and driving out.”

Colton Pool can be reached at cpool@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.