By Alan Sorensen
The Montana State University-Northern Skylights have their work cut out for them in their two home volleyball matches this week.
The Skylights host the Carroll College Fighting Saints tonight and Rocky Mountain College Fighting Bears Friday. Both matches are slated to begin at 7 p.m.
Northern enters the fray at two wins and six losses in Frontier Conference play and with an 8-16 overall record.
Despite having only two league wins, the Northern netters are still in the conference race, Coach Lisa Handley said.
"For us, we have to win this match (against Carroll)," Handley said. "We're still in the conference race with Carroll losing to Western twice."
Handley said the Skylights weren't at full strength when they invaded Carroll's home court in Helena earlier in the year. The players who were out are in now and the team is looking for revenge.
"Tonight, our players are pretty fired up to show what kind of team we really are," Handley said. "I feel we have a good chance at beating them, but we do have to play some of our best ball to beat them.
"Basically, we're going to attack their left side blockers; they have a big block out of the middle and a big block out of their left side hitter."
Handley said she hopes to get solid play out of her middle hitters tonight.
"They've kind of been out of the offense the past couple of games, and we really need them to be in the offense to open up our outside," she said. "That means we need to have our passing tonight. Against Tech, they had 19 aces on us. We worked a lot on serve-receive this week."
Saturday's match against Rocky is equally important and should produce plenty of action.
"Rocky right now is sitting number one in the conference," Handley said. "They beat Lewis-Clark in two matches, both in three games, and Lewis-Clark was ranked number two in the nation.
"Rocky's not only ranked number one in our conference, but they're ranked number two in our region."
The key to the Rocky game, Handley said, may very well be confidence.
"They're going to be tough, but we always play well against Rocky," she said. "We have a great rivalry with them and we have the confidence to play against them."
Both matches will be held in the MSU-Northern gym starting at 7 p.m.