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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT Birgitta Gray O: (406) 896-5917 E: birgitta.gray@msubillings.edu December 1, 2016 Recap: Seniors lead 2016 MSUB volleyball season MSUB Volleyball on Facebook | MSUB Volleyball Stack on ISSUU | MSUB Volleyball Record Book

Outside hitter Ashlynn Ward finishes her career on five of the 10 Yellowjacket career records.

Ashlynn Ward lands on five of the 10 all-time career records as the Yellowjackets finish their 2016 season with multiple players finishing with career bests. BILLINGS, Mont. – Finishing their four-year careers with the MSUB volleyball program, seniors Ashlynn Ward and Stormy Siemion led the Yellowjackets and themselves into the record books as the team finished their season with several record-breaking performances. The Yellowjacket volleyball team entered a new era during the 2016 season as Casey Williams was hired as the 13th women’s volleyball head coach to helm the program. A native of Billings, Mont., Williams played her prep career at Skyview High School. She competed for Spokane Falls Community College for two seasons before transferring to finish her collegiate career at Division II West Alabama. Under Williams, Montana State University Billings finished with an overall record of 7-23 and 5-15 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. MSU Billings won its opening season match in Hawaii against BYU-Hawaii in four sets. The ‘Jackets also earned a four set win over rival Rocky Mountain College during the team’s annual pink match. Two


players were named to an all-conference team and one was honored as an academic all-GNAC selection. Williams inherited a team that returned four active players. She and assistant coach Carly Wehling added six players to the roster for the season, three freshmen and three transfers. “I was really excited about taking over the MSUB volleyball program,” Williams said on the 2016 season. “It is a program that I had watched while growing up here in Billings, and a job that I could not turn down. Stepping into a program I was unsure about what to expect. What I found was a group of hardworking athletes that wanted to turn this program around. I couldn’t have asked for a better group during this inaugural year in Division II.” Ward and Siemion both completed the strongest seasons of their careers. Ward ended the year with 398 kills, 149 digs, and 64 total blocks. Siemion finished with 390 kills, 373 digs, and 31 total blocks. A first team all-conference honoree for 2016, Ward ended the regular season third in the GNAC in kills per set at 3.46 and 15th in hitting percentage at .243 (298-127-1,074). She was sixth in points per set at 3.77. Ward earned a career-high 24 kills in a match against Concordia (Ore.). She had 15 digs twice during her career and nine blocks in the same match at CU. This year, Ward was honored as the opening-season GNAC Player of the Week. During the four match tournament in Hawaii, Ward completed 67 kills on a .369 attack percentage (67-15-141). Ashlynn Ward MSUB Career All-Time MSUB Category Total Rank 7th Kills 1156 6th Attempts 3304 th 10 Block Assists 181 9th Hitting .212 Percentage 6th Games (Sets) 400 Played Siemion finishes her time as a Yellowjacket on the all-time career list at No. 10 in digs with 952. An all-court player from Huntley, Mont., and a GNAC honorable mention pick this season, Siemion was instrumental at both the net and in the back court for the Yellowjackets. In the opening season tournament for MSUB in Hawaii, Siemion earned a career-record 23 kills against Hawaii Pacific in an afternoon match and then turned around an hour later, pounding home a new high of 28 against San Francisco State. She set a career-record in digs her freshmen year of 36 in a marathon battle against Central Washington. Siemion recorded 28 double-doubles in her career. She posted half of those her senior year, just under half of the total matches during the 2016 season. Siemion was sixth in the GNAC in kills with 3.39 per set and 16th in digs at 3.24. She was also seventh in points with 3.67 per set. At the net, Siemion far exceeded any of her previous years, recording 31.0 total blocks at the net. “Ashlynn and Stormy will be greatly missed next season,” Williams commented on the two senior outside hitters. “They have been great leaders on the court and really led our offense this season. Both Stormy and Ashlynn have aggressive swings and are smart with their shot selection. They will go down in MSUB volleyball history as two of the most aggressive outsides that the program has seen.”


A third senior joined the team this season for her final year of athletic eligibility. Kylee Cornelio was a transfer from Prairie View A&M in Texas. Although the defensive specialist spent just one year with the team, the native of Mililani, Hawaii, had an immediate impact. Cornelio posted five matches with over 20 digs and had a season-high 30 in a four set match at Saint Martin’s. For the season, Cornelio amassed 420 total digs which ties her for the ninth best season at MSUB. Also transferring to the team were 5-foot-9 middle blocker Casey Rich, and 5-foot-9 outside hitter Lexa de Jesus. Rich competed for Northwest College in Wyoming for two years. Originally from Puerto Rico, de Jesus played her first two seasons for the New Mexico Military Institute. Although under six feet tall, Rich had an outstanding year at the net for MSUB. She recorded 99 total blocks assists for the year which ties her for the third-best season in a Yellowjacket uniform. She averaged just under one block (.94) per set and she recorded seven in a match against Alaska. Rich played in all 30 matches for MSUB, totaling 196.5 points on the season. Primarily a right side hitter, de Jesus played in 26 matches for MSUB. She recorded 135 kills and 29 blocks. Against BYUHawaii, de Jesus finished with 11 kills on a .409 attack percentage (11-2-22). She totaled 29 blocks on the year with three against Hawaii Hilo. “Kylee was such a tremendous addition to the roster this year.,” Williams said. “She was our primary libero throughout season and was consistent both defensively and on serve receive. I am so excited that Kylee is going to stick around next season to help out as a student assistant while she finishes her degree. Her defensive expertise and coaching experience will be very helpful. “ On the two junior transfers, Williams saw both student-athletes adjust at the level of conference competition. “Casey and Lexa both saw a good amount of court time this year. Casey was our M1 and competed against athletes that were much taller than her. She competed day in and day out to be one of the most consistent middles in the conference. Lexa has an aggressive swing and is one of the most competitive people that I have ever met. I am very excited to see what kind of senior season Lexa can have.” Mataia Robinson and Miranda McConnell both contributed to the team as returners. Robinson, in her junior season, played in all 30 matches, finishing with 246 digs, 121 assists, and a team-leading 35 service aces. Robinson was eighth in the GNAC at .31 service aces per set. She had six aces in the match at Hawaii Pacific this season. In her three years with the team, Robinson has accumulated 72 total service aces, needing nine more to enter onto the MSUB career top-10. A middle blocker, McConnell finished with 158 kills and 60.0 total blocks on the season, averaging .66 per set. She had six matches of double-digit kills, including 14 twice. McConnell was named to the GNAC all-academic team with a cumulative grade point average of 3.21 in health and human performance. “Miranda was a great offensive threat for us this year. She has improved so much in the last couple of months and I am really excited to see her continue to improve. She will be one of our most experienced players next year and will bring a great amount of leadership. Mataia was a versatile player this year. She stepped in and set for us in a couple of matches. She was also one of our most consistent servers, leading the team in aces.” Three true freshmen saw time on the court for MSUB. Setter Angala Jensen finished her opening Yellowjacket campaign eighth in the GNAC in assists per set at 8.65. She played in all 30 matches for MSUB, totaling just five assists shy of tripledigits at 995. Jensen had seven double-doubles on the year and against Western Oregon completed a triple-double of 10 kills, 37 assists, and 14 digs. Jensen had 86 kills, 202 digs, and 47 blocks.


The second product from Huntley, Mont., Faith Taylor, joined the team as a defensive specialist. She had 11 matches of double-digit digs with a season-high 27 in the win against Rocky Mountain College. Bre Rodrigues was the second player to join MSUB from Hawaii. Rodrigues saw time in 22 matches, starting 14. A middle blocker and right side, Rodrigues amassed 76 kills and 43.0 total blocks. She had nine kills and 9.0 total blocks against Western Oregon at home. “All three of our freshmen made a big impact on the program this year, all seeing valuable court time.” Williams commented. “Angala was our starting setter throughout season. It is very difficult to step into a program and be asked to run the show and she did a great job of staying composed and acting like a veteran setter. Faith is one of the hardest working people that I have ever met. She was the scrappiest defender that we had on the team this year and worked to better each ball. As a freshman she saw time in the libero position and had a great match against Rocky. Bre helped us in both the middle and right side position. She is a quality blocker and has a great arm swing. “ MSUB ended its home schedule with three straight wins against Rocky Mountain College, Saint Martin’s and on Senior Night, a straight sets win over Seattle Pacific. In front of the largest crowd of the season, the ‘Jackets held RMC to a .107 attack percentage, including a -.043 in the fourth set. Siemion, Ward, and McConnell all had 14 kills. In the final home match, MSUB limited SPU to .023 at the net. Siemion had a double-double and McConnell six blocks. “I am excited about the future of MSUB volleyball,” Williams said. “I think that we took some positive steps in the 2016 season and laid the foundation to rebuild the program in upcoming years. I believe that with a mix of local talent, experienced junior college players, and returners, this program can achieve great things.” --msubsports.com | #JacketNation--


Recap: Seniors lead 2016 MSUB volleyball season