By Tiffany L. Rehbein
A very relaxed Carroll College volleyball team laughed and poked fun at each other after swamping the Skylights 15-1 in game one Wednesday night at Carroll.
However, not one Fighting Saint cracked a smile when the MSU-Northern squad fought back and won games two and three, 15-12, 16-14.
Carroll won the match in five games, taking the final two games, 15-1, 15-5.
I was extremely pleased with how we played tonight, said head coach Lisa Handley.
The Skylights started the match playing flat, scoring only one point on a Heather Hammonds serve.
But game two opened with sophomore Jessica Gerenz serving three-straight points to give Northern an early 3-0 lead.
Gerenz notched 27 assists in the match. She is seventh in the Frontier Conference, averaging 4.68 assists per game.
After Carroll served eight unanswered points, Northern rallied, with sophomore Adrienne Poplawski and freshman Jaley Wacker putting up huge blocks at the net.
Both big girls had nine kills each in the effort.
Behind the hot serving of senior Jennifer Sanders, who leads the Frontier Conference with a 98.6 serving percentage, the Skylights tallied five consecutive points.
Three unforced Carroll errors and combination blocks between Wacker and senior Melanie Baack and Baack and Hammonds helped tally more points.
Baack finished with 13 kills and 14 digs in the contest.
After a succession of four side-outs, Baack served three points, and sophomore Lyndi Hostetter and Hammonds put up a big block for the game-winning point.
Game three boasted 41 side-outs, including 11 consecutive, en route to the Skylights win.
With the game knotted up at 14, Poplawski came up with a big kill from the middle for a side out.
Sanders served, and Wacker smashed a free ball back across the net to lift the Skylights by one point.
With the Northern fans clapping and cheering, Carroll served into the net, giving sophomore Gabrielle Chambliss the opportunity to serve the game-winning point.
They were after us, Handley said. Were the No. 1 passing team in the conference, and everyone is out to get us and prove that we dont belong there, but, we do belong there.
The Skylights boast a .93 team passing percentage to lead the league. They also lead the conference with a 94 percent serving mark.
The Skylights, who are fighting for a playoff position, needed to play Carroll tough for five games.
In order to secure a playoff spot, Montana Tech must beat Rocky Mountain College and Northern, who meets Rocky at home Friday, must win.
This match helped us, Handley said. Were still right in there still.
The Skylights meet the Bears at 7 p.m. Friday at the MSU-Northern gymnasium.