By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The MSU-Northern Skylights volleyball team is home to win.
The Skylights, 1-0 in the Frontier Conference and 2-6 overall, will meet Western Montana College (0-1, 11-4) Friday in its second Frontier Conference match-up.
Were excited to be home finally, said first-year head coach Lisa Handley.
The Skylights won their opening season Frontier Conference match-up last weekend at Salt Lake City where they pounded Westminster College 15-5, 15-4, 15-2. They have played on the road since August 28.
Northern has played Western three times this year, twice in the opening weekend Frontier Conference scrimmage and once at the Frontier Conference tournament two weeks ago.
Northern won 2-of-9 games between the two matches, one at each tournament.
They have huge blockers, Handley said about Westerns front line. They put up a huge block.
Bulldog sophomore Katie Ryan is third in the Frontier Conference with an average of 1.04 blocks per game. She is eighth in kills, averaging 2.64 per game.
The Bulldogs six-foot-2 senior middle blocker Kelly Coombs stands third in the Frontier Conference in individual attack percentage with a .337.
Five-foot-10 senior outside hitter Emily Carroll of Western lands an average of 3.29 kills per game, the second highest in the conference.
Our greatest strength is that they are coming to our house, Handley said. All three match losses to the Bulldogs were at Dillon. One of the things I want to get our team to understand is that no one can come into our house and push us around.
The Skylights strong serving might be able to take the Bulldogs out of their offensive game.
The Skylights five-foot-9 sophomore middle blocker Lyndi Hostetter leads the Frontier Conference with a 98.3 individual serving percentage. She has notched 12 aces on 118 serves for the Skylights.
Her team leadership of being steady at the serve is important, Handley said. Hostetter also leads the team with a .180 attack percentage with 57 kills on the year.
Sophomore setter Gabrielle Chambliss tied a school record last week in ace serves with five. Chambliss stands No. 7 in the conference with a 95.7 individual serving percentage.
Senior captain Melanie Baack leads the Skylights with 77 digs on the season. She has also notched 59 kills this fall with a .114 attack percentage.
Freshman Jaylee Wacker of Roundup might get the go-ahead against Western. At 6-foot-2, Wacker posed a defensive threat to the Bulldog middles earlier this season.
In Saturday action, the Skylights will meet Frontier Conference opponent Montana Tech at the Northern gymnasium.
The two met in the opening season conference scrimmage and while Northern won one game, Tech came away with the victory.
They are scrappy, Handley said. They will pick everything up and go.
Tech does not attack the net hard but relies more on the opponent to make the mistakes in the match.
We need to cut down and our offensive errors and attack errors, Handley said. We just need to play our game.
That game has been practiced this week at the Havre Middle School due to the Northern gym being used for other commitments.
It has turned into something positive by making us more mentally tough when things are unexpected or out of our control, Handley said. We are grateful to the middle school for letting up practice at this gym.
Attacks from front row hitters Adrienne Poplawski, who has 43 kills thus far, and Heather Hammonds, who has tallied 32 kills, might just tear the Oredigger defense apart.
We have to go out there and play to win, Handley said. They will never just lie down and die for us.
Both matches are slated to begin at 7 p.m. at the MSU-Northern gymnasium.