The Montana State University-Northern volleyball team didn't win the Frontier Conference championship and the Skylights won't be going to the NAIA national tournament next week. But few people outside of Havre expected any of that out of the Skylights when the season began back in August. Yet, Northern got so close to doing both as the Skylights lost to Carroll 3-2 in the Frontier championship match Saturday night in Butte. The Saints defeated the Skylights by scores of 25-15, 22-25, 17-25, 25-21 and and 17-15.
It was a valiant effort by a Skylight team which was picked to finish sixth in the Frontier this season, as Northern shook off a rough first set to take a 2-1 lead. But things unravled for the Skylights in the fourth as Carroll overcame a five-point deficit to force a winner-take-all fifth set. IN the fifth, Northern held a match point at 14-13 and again at 15-14, but MSU-N couldn't convert either and Carroll finished the match by winning three of the final four points.
In the heartbreaking loss, senior Hillary Isliefson totaled a career-high 24 kills, to go along with 16 digs in what was her final match as a Skylight. Abby Nicholas finished with 15 kills and 31 digs, while Kelsey Williams had 12 kills and 19 digs in the marathon match.
The victory over Northern, Carroll's second in three matches against MSU-N this season, sends the Saints into the NAIA national tournament, while it's doubtful any other Frontier team will get an at-large berth.
The Skylights' season ends with a record of 18-15 and a lot of memories, as Northern capped off the best season in more than a decade for the program.
For complete coverage, see Monday's Havre Daily News.