It was an emotional homecoming for the Montana State University-Northern volleyball team. But the final results weren’t what the Skylights were hoping for.
Northern had been on the road since Aug. 18 when it finally got to play at home Friday night against the Lewis-Clark State Warriors, but a three-game sweep at the hands of the Warriors, and a disappointing four-game loss to Westminster College on Saturday night dropped MSU-N from second place all the way to sixth in the Frontier Conference standings.
Friday night was not only the return of the Skylights to Havre. The volleyball program, the school and the community paid tribute to the late Shaina Evans. Evans was killed in a car accident last summer, and before Friday night’s match, she was honored with the entire crowd wearing pink, the color of “Shaina’s Challenge”, as well as her No. 17 being retired and a moment of silence. LC State players also wore No. 17 pink ribbons on their shoes to honor Evans.
Once the moving ceremony was over however, and the ball went up, it didn’t take long for the Warriors to assert their dominance. Ranked No. 11 in the NAIA, the Warriors quickly took the Skylights out of their offense, and as a result, swept Northern by scores of 25-10, 25-11 and 25-13.
LC State’s serving was a big part of the problem for the Skylights. In just three short games, the Warriors racked up 11 aces, and Northern’s block didn’t have an answer for Deddiy Alaimaleata, who totaled a quick 11 kills.
“They (Warriors) deserve a lot of credit,” MSU-N head coach Bill Huebsch said. “Out of 300-some schools in the country, they are ranked No. 11 for good reason, they are very talented.”
Still, the Skylights didn’t play as well as they had been playing in the weeks leading up to their homecoming matches. As a team, MSU-N hit just .184 compared to LC’s .455 percentage, and the Skylights had just two blocks and 23 digs in the loss. Senior Kaylee Bossert did have a solid outing, leading the Skylights with 12 kills, six digs and a block.
“As good as LC played, we didn’t put our best foot forward and that’s disappointing,” Huebsch said. “I don’t know if we can beat them even on our best night, but I do know we didn’t play at all like we’re capable of against them and that’s frustrating.”
Northern was also frustrated by game’s end on Saturday night. Despite looking like a completely different team when they took game one from the Westminster Griffins, the tide quickly turned and the Skylights wound up dropping three straight games and the match by scores of 21-25, 25-21, 25-19 and 25-21.