George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The Montana State University- Northern volleyball teams final road trip of the regular season will probably be its toughest. Tonight, the Skylights (1-6, 1-16) are in Lewsiton, Idaho to take on league-leading and nationally ranked Lewis-Clark State. Then, after a travel day, MSU-N will be in Salt Lake City on Saturday to take on the Westminster Griffins. Northern is back on the road after three straight weeks of matches in Havre, MSU-N's rollercoaster ride at home started three weeks ago when the Skylights split a pair of Frontier Conference matches with Montana Tech and UM-Western. The following week, the Skylights played host to the Northern-Pepsi Classic, a nonconference tournament in which MSU-N reached the Gold Medal Match, and lost a pair of nonconference tilts to Carroll College. Northern wrapped up its homestand last Thursday, losing to rival University of Great Falls in four close games. The homestand proved to be MSUN's best volleyball of the season. Despite only picking up one conference win during that stretch, Northern played at its highest level throughout the three weeks. Sophomore Kaylee Bossert was steady from her middle hitter position. Bossert comes into this weekend's matches 10th in the Frontier in hitting percentage and kills. Bossert leads Northern in total kills with 128, while Sheena McInnes has 84 and Jen Rohl has 63. Rohl is also 16th in the league in total blocks, and she leads the Skylights with 17 solo blocks and 36 total blocks. Outside hitter Brittany Baker and Taya Tokarski have also begun to heat up, and both players have been key to Northern's offensive improvement. The Skylights are also getting solid hitting from true freshman Tasha Dyrland off the bench, while Nicole Gwynn and Jenna Frankino are playing outstanding defense. As well as MSU-N has played as of late, the Skylights will have their hands full on their final road trip before the conference tournament. Tonight at 8, the Skylights will face No. 9 LC State (8-1, 21-1). The Warriors dismantled Northern in Havre last month, and they have suffered just one loss all season. LC State has a two-game lead over Rocky Mountain College and UGF in the conference standings, and the Warriors have perhaps the league's best all-around player in outside hitter Anile Clemente, who torched MSU-N for 14 kills in a three-game victory last month. Things won't get any easier for Northern on Saturday night at Westminster (5-4, 6-14). The Griffins are playing much better volleyball since they downed the Skylights in three games last month in Havre. Since beating MSU-N last, Westminster has won four of its last five conference matches and has climbed back in to the upper half of the conference standings. Allison Culp leads Westminster in both kills and blocks, and Erika Evans is a solid outside hitter who played well in her last match against MSU-N. Northern is currently in seventh place in the league standings heading into its matches with LC State and Westminster. The Skylights will return home to wrap up the regular season on Oct. 31 against RMC and Nov. 1 against Carroll College.