The Montana State University-Northern volleyball team has high hopes for the 2012 season. And one victory isn’t going to mean the Skylights have reached those goals.
But if there was one win in the last four years that has more meaning than the others, it was certainly Northern’s four-set win o
ver the Carroll College Fighting Saints inside the currently being remodeled Armory Gymnasium on Saturday night.
After all, the victory was one the Skylights have been pushing so hard for, and it’s one that Northern head coach Bill Huebsch has been building the program towards over the last four seasons.
And on top of that, Northern’s dominating performance over Carroll created some great milestones for the MSU-N program.
First and foremost, it was against Carroll. The Saints came to the Armory ranked No. 15 in the NAIA, but left a defeated team. And that’s what the Skylights wanted to do to one of their biggest rivals in the Frontier Conference.
But it was so much more than just a win over an arch rival.
Northern hadn’t beaten Carroll in a long, long time, including during the last three seasons since Huebsch took over the program. The Skylights also hadn’t taken down a team ranked that high in the NAIA Top 25 in just as long.
So those factors alone certainly show just how far the program has come from Huebsch’s first year at the helm, and before.
“I hope it shows that we’ve made some significant progress,” Huebsch said. “We hadn’t beaten Carroll since I got here, and every year they are a quality opponent. So I think it does show that we’ve made a lot of headway as a program.”
There was also the Armory milestone itself.
It’s been a while since one of the proudest and oldest gyms in Montana has gotten a face lift like the one going on at MSU-N now. A brand new floor and one set of new bleachers, along with some fresh paint was done in time for Saturday night’s home opener, and now that the match is the books, the Skylights win over Carroll will forever be remembered as the first victory by any Northern sport, in what will be a beautiful new Armory when all is said and done.
And that’s something the Northern players and coaches who took part in Saturday night’s match will always remember.
“We made some history,” Northern junior Holly Cartwright said after the match. “The crowd was awesome tonight. Everyone was excited to be here, and to win the first match in here, it’s awesome.”
It was awesome. It was exciting, it was loud and it was a lot of fun to witness.
And while no one knows yet how the season will turn out for Northern, I have a feeling that last Saturday night’s victory over Carroll will be a milestone for years to come. I have a feeling that the Skylight volleyball program turned a major corner on Saturday night in what has been a difficult and uphill climb.
With how Northern played against the vaunted Saints, with a new-look home-court advantage being completed and with a great group of players and coaches in place, something tells me Saturday night really marked the beginning of a new era in Northern volleyball.
I don’t know all that for sure. But with the way this Skylight team, played on Saturday night, it’s sure going to be fun watching them and seeing how it all unfolds over the next two months.