George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
With one of the youngest rosters in the NAIA and a new head coach, the Frontier Conference coaches aren't predicting that the Montana State University- Northern volleyball team will do much this fall. On Monday night, the league released its annual coaches' pre-season poll where the Skylights were predicted to finish last in the conference standings at the end of the season. Despite a lot of talent, and performances in home matches, an extremely young Northern team finished with just four league wins, but alone in sixth place in the Frontier Conference in 2007. The Skylights tallied just seven total victories a year ago. And while the Skylights return almost everybody of last year's team, as well as boast one of the top recruiting classes in the league, they are still young and unproven in a league that is laden with talent. MSU-N will also be under the guidance of a new head coach. Two-year head man Greg Ryan left the team for a job in his native Canada at the beginning of July, and just two weeks ago, MSU-N named one of Ryan's assistants, Steve Leggitt, as interim head coach for the 2008 season. Meanwhile, the coaches picked defending league champion and regional powerhouse Lewis-Clark State to defend its regular season title this fall. The Warriors lost just twice in conference play last season. Westminster College, which has a budding rivalry with LC State was picked second, followed by Montana Tech. Those three teams finished in the same order at the end of the 2007 season. Westminster was the only other team to receive any first-place votes. LC State garnered six votes and the Griffins got two. The rest of the order is, the University of Great Falls, Carroll College, UM-Western and Northern. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams. First place was worth seven points, second place worth six points, third place worth five points, fourth place worth four points, fifth place worth three points, sixth place worth two points, and seventh place worth one point. The volleyball season gets under way on Aug. 22 with matches across the region. The Skylights begin play on Aug. 22 in Dickinson, N.D.