George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
Life on the road in the Frontier Conference is never easy, as the Montana State University-Northern women’s volleyball team found out this past weekend. The Skylights dropped a pair of conference road matches starting with a loss to Westminster College on Thursday night in Salt Lake City, Utah. Northern also fell to struggling UM-Western on Friday night in Dillon. The road losses dropped MSU-N’s 2006 record to 2-7 in conference play and 4-12 overall. Northern is just one game ahead of last-place Western heading into this weekend’s matches. On Thursday, the Skylights once again played well, but also had to play from behind in a loss at Westminster. Northern kept pace with the Griffins in the first game of the match, but couldn’t find away to steal the lead, and wound up dropping the game 30- 26. With a game in hand, the Griffins asserted their offensive presence on the young Skylights. Westminster terminated the ball particularly well in the second and third games en route to wins by scores of 30-22 and 30-21. The Griffins racked up 45 kills in three games compared to MSU-N’s 26. Angie Johnson led all hitters with 13 kills for Westminster. Westminster also served extremely well, racking up nine aces, including four from star hitter Brie Riet. Northern only had one player reach double digits in kills on Thursday night. Carlee Hoff had 11 of the Skylights’ 26 kills, and Rachel Mrdeza added nine. Hoff and Brittany Sesler each had a solo block in the loss. With the win, Westminster earned a season-sweep over the Skylights for the second straight year. The Griffins are a perfect 8-0 in conference play, and they hold a one-game lead over the University of Great Falls for first place in the conference standings. On Friday night, the Skylights walked into a “trap” match on their long road trip as they visited winless UM-Western in Dillon. The Bulldogs have struggled all season long and Northern had previously beaten them in three easy games last month in Havre. But on Friday, Western found a way to upend Northern and earn its first victory of the season in a fivegame thriller. The Bulldogs captured the opening game 30-24 before Northern took game two by the same score. The two teams split games three and four, and in a dramatic fifth game, Western struck the final blow and captured the game, 15-13 and the match, 3-2. Momentum was crucial in the match and Western clearly seized it at the end. Northern blew away the Bulldogs in most statistical categories on Friday, especially in the hitting department where the Skylights had 66 kills to just 49 for the Bulldogs. Hoff led the way for MSU-N with 14 kills and Mrdeza added 13. Sesler and Tera O’Haire chipped in with 11 kills a piece. Sesler also had 45 assists and three of MSU-N’s six aces. Kelly Thorpe led the Skylights defensively with 15 digs.