By Alan Sorensen
The Montana State University-Northern Skylights went into their match in the Northern gym last night against rival Carroll College Fighting Saints with a sense of urgency. And though they didn't fulfill their goal of a victory and an outside shot at a conference title, they gave it the good fight.
"It was a tough loss, but an exciting match," Coach Lisa Handley said after the match.
The excitement came in the form of four down-to-the-wire games leading into the fifth game for match. Northern lost the first game 16 to 14, but came back to win the next two, 16 to 14 and 15 to 13. The fourth game was equally close, but Carroll came out on top in extra serves, 17 to 15. The fifth game of the night went to the Saints, 15 to 9.
The Skylights were led by Mitsu Frazier with 16 kills, Connie Fritz with 13 and Jessica Gerenz with 10. Assist leaders were Gerenz with 25 and Gabrielle Chambliss with 17. Northern served eight aces, with Fritz and Andrea Knox each hitting two.
As a team, Northern was 89 percent in the serve-receive department. Hammonds and Tanja Bruski each had one block.
"Each game was a different kind of battle," Handley said. "Carroll would be up by 7 or 8 points; we would fight back. We would be up; they would fight back."
Handley said the Skylights won the first and fourth games by coming from behind. The Saints won games two and three in the same manner.
"I was pleased with our blocking," Handley said. "It took them outside out of their game. I felt that Mitsu and Connie did a great job on the outside, mixing up their shots and putting down great hits."
Handley said the Skylights as a team have great ability, but must gain a killer instinct.
"We get behind, then we let loose and feel like we have nothing to lose, so (players) give it their all," she said. "When we are ahead, we play more passively we play not to win,' but instead, not to lose.'"
Handley said the young team is constantly improving and that she foresees good things down the road.
"We are getting better and better," she said. "The wins will come in due time."
Northern dropped to 2 and 7 in Frontier Conference play and 8 and 17 overall as they prepare to host the Rocky Mountain College Fighting Bears Friday. The match is scheduled to get under way at 7 p.m. Rocky leads the conference, but the Skylights' coach said her players are confident that they can pull out the win.