Havre Daily News Sports Editor
Most teams would gladly take a weekend split of Frontier Conference road games. However, Montana State University-Northern volleyball coach Lisa Handley knows that her team missed out on a golden opportunity to get two road wins and move to the top of the conference standings.
Northern's first conference road trip didn't get off to a very good start with a disappointing 30-20, 20-30, 32-34, 30-27, 15-13 loss to Montana Tech Thursday night in Butte.
"It was one of the strangest losses I've ever had," Handley said. "We beat them in every statistical category that mattered and we still lost the match."
After dropping the first game of the match, the Skylights won the next two and needed just one more win to take the match. However, the Diggers fought back, winning Game 4 and edging Northern in the decisive fifth game.
"We just made mental mistakes when it mattered most," Handley said. "We had some missed serves and some missed free balls at bad times and it cost us the match."
It was disappointing to Handley, considering how well her team played for most of the match.
"We played great," she said. "We came out ready to play right away and everybody contributed. We just couldn't get the win."
The win was just the second of the season for Montana Tech, but Handley believes their 2-11 record is a bit deceiving.
"They are much better than their record indicates," she said. "That is one of the hardest hitting Tech teams that I've seen since I've been here."
Jordan Fox led the Skylights with 20 kills and 15 digs. Julie Henderson added 12 kills, eight digs and four aces, while Emilee Madsen-Summers had 46 assists.
"Jordan had a fabulous match," Handley said. "She didn't play well last week, and she came out very focused."
The Skylights' reward for the tough road match was a day spent traveling to Lewiston, Idaho, for a match with Lewis-Clark State Warriors. Since joining the Frontier, Lewis-Clark State has never lost to the Skylights on its home floor. But that streak ended Saturday, as Northern rolled to a 30-26, 30-14, 30-21, 30-28 win.
The Skylights dominated the match with the exception of the second game, which they lost 30-14.
"Nothing went right in that game," Handley said. "Everything that could go wrong did. But I was happy that they bounced back after that and won the match."
Fox had 10 kills, 13 digs and four aces, while Jasmine Mitchell had 10 kills and and two blocks. Madsen-Summers chipped in with 37 assists.
"Jasmine played more aggressive than I've ever seen her play," Handley said. "When it got close to match point, she really played hard and was aggressive at the net."
Although Handley had hoped for a sweep, she'll take the split.
"The biggest thing is that we got better after every match," she said.
Northern will have a few days off before hitting the road Wednesday for a match against the University of Great Falls.
Montana Tech def. MSU-Northern
30-20, 20-30, 32-34, 30-27, 15-13
MSU-Northern - Kills 65 (Jordan Fox 20, Julie Henderson 12, Jasmine Mitchell 12 ), Assists 58 (Emilee Madsen-Summers 46), Aces 8 (Julie Henderson 4), Digs 58 (Jordan Fox 15, Hope Wirll 15, Julie Henderson 8), Blocks 14 (Tera O'Haire 6.5).
Montana Tech - Kills 71 (Maria McNeil 25, CoreyAnne Russell 18, Janet Friesz 12), Assists 67 (Lindsey Balfour 63), Aces 4 (Krystle Spang 2), Digs 55 (Krystle Spang 14, Beka Hudson 10), Blocks 7 (Liz Marsik 2.5).
MSU-Northern def. Lewis-Clark State
30-26, 30-14, 30-21, 30-28
MSU-Northern - Kills 46 (Jordan Fox 12, Jasmine Mitchell 10), Assists 40 (Emilee Madsen-Summers 37), Aces 8 (Jordan Fox 4), Digs 50 (Jordan Fox 13, Emilee Madsen-Summers 9), Blocks 13.5 (Tera O'Haire 7, Jordan Fox 6, Jeanna McPherson 5).
Lewis-Clark State - Kills 46 (Tyger Spencer 18), Assists 38 (Stephanie Wayt 34), Aces 12 (Tyler Spencer 4), Digs 58 (Dawn Ingham 15, Tyger Spencer 14), Blocks 4 (three with 2).