For nearly two full weeks, the Montana State University-Northern volleyball team has been preparing for this moment. The Skylights have been working towards a specific date, and now, that date is finally here.
Today, the Skylights will open the 2011 season with a pair of matches at the UGF/Carroll Tournament in Great Falls. First up for Northern is nationally-ranked Indiana Wesleyn this afternoon, immediately followed by a match against future Frontier Conference rival Dickinson State University. Northern will also play twice on Saturday, and third-year head coach Bill Huebsch says his team is ready for the beginning of a brand new year.
“I’m excited, the kids are excited,” Huebsch said. “The girls have been working very hard and they are ready to get out on the floor and play against somebody else. So this weekend is going to be very exciting.”
The Skylights enter a new season after finishing seventh in the Frontier a year ago at 4-10. But overall, Northern racked up 11 total wins last season – the best record by an MSU-N team in six years. And Huebsch said he’s hoping to build on last year’s success, starting with this weekend’s matches in Great Falls.
However, two things will be challenging for Northern right away. MSU-N’s schedule this weekend pits the Skylights against four quality opponents. But even more daunting will be the fact that Northern is a brand new team this season, and this will be the first matches as five seniors and eight returnees mesh with a host of talented newcomers.
“I think that’s going to be the biggest thing this weekend, seeing how well we play against tough competition,” Huebsch said. “We’ve had a great training camp, and this team has really bonded well on and off the court and it’s happened quickly. But now we have to transition that into real matches against quality teams.
“As for what I want to see this weekend, of course we want to go out and win every match we play,” he added. “But right now, we’re looking for consistency and improvement. We want to play consistent volleyball, and my hope is, we are better after every match we play. It’s a long season and we want each match to be better than our last. That’s what we’re looking for right now.”
The Skylights open the season today at 3 against Indiana Wesleyn then take on the DSU Blue Hawks at 5. On Saturday, MSU-N plays Viterbo University at 9 a.m. and University of Rio Grande at 4 p.m. All of this weekend’s matches will take place at the McLaughlin Center in Great Falls.