By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The MSU-Northern Skylights (5-7, 7-16) missed the playoffs by four points, but set some school records en route to one of its best seasons in more than four years.
Senior Jen Sanders broke the individual serve percentage, set in 1992, and notched a 98.8 percentage throughout the season.
Sanders also served 137 consecutive serves. The old record was set by Patti Weed in 1991 when she served 70-straight.
Sanders led the Frontier Conference in individual serving percentage.
MSU-Northern as a team led the league with a 94.1 percent serving total on the year.
Sophomore Gabrielle Chambliss tied a 1994 school record when she smoked five individual aces in one game.
In serve receive, Sanders and sophomore Lyndi Hostetter both set individual serve receive records.
Sanders notched a 92.2 receiving percent, while Hostetter tallied a 93.8 percent total.
As a team, the Skylights received at 92.3 percent throughout the season, the second-best in the Frontier Conference.
The old team record, 89 percent, was set in 1993.
"Individually, everybody improved," first-year head coach Lisa Handley said. "With each individual who improved, that made the team stronger and better."
The Skylights listed their goals at the beginning of the season, with some coming through and some falling short.
Making the playoffs, something that has not been done in Northern volleyball in more than seven years, was one goal that was not reached.
"It was a high goal set and nearly achieved," Handley said. The Rocky Mountain College Bears slipped into the final playoff spot, finishing four points ahead of the Skylights.
Other goals, playing together as a team and consistently playing at a high level of intensity, were achieved.
"A lot was achieved by the end of the season," Handley said. "We just got better and better as a team."
Melanie Baack and Sanders are the two seniors who will be missed on next year's team.
"Mel and Jen will be missed," Handley said. "I knew we were young as a team, with mostly freshmen and sophomores. We needed to build consistency, which we did."
Northern will be returning five-to-six starters from this year's team.
Chambliss, Hostetter, sophomore Adrienne Poplawski, sophomore Janelle Gillies, junior Heather Hammonds, sophomore Jessica Gerenz, as well as juniors Connie Fritz, Sommer Guenther, Sara McMillan, and freshmen Jaley Wacker and redshirt Lexy Ranes should return for next season.
"Northern is now respected in the conference and now we're a team to watch out for," Handley said.