By Heidi Boyum
Back in full strength for the first time all season, the MSU-Northern Skylight volleyball team split a pair of games this weekend, losing to University of Montana-Western in four games Friday night, and downing Montana Tech in five on Saturday.
Though the Skylights lost to Western, coach Lisa Handley was pleased with their overall performance.
"(The Skylights) played extremely well," said Handley. "We passed well and didn't get aced once. It was a good match, a fun match. Now we know of some things we need to work on."
Stephanie Lanfear and Andrea Knox dominated the net with 19 and 18 kills, respectively, while Lyndi Hostetter guarded the back court with 26 digs. Emmy Olson had five aces for the night.
As the Skylights prepared for Saturday's match, Handley said the team needed to work on winning.
"Tech is one of those teams that never gives in never lets the ball drop. We're good enough to beat teams like Tech, but (the Skylights) have got to know that," said Handley. "We are the better team athletically. We just need to be ready emotionally."
Tech came out strong, but the Skylights were hungry for a win. Maybe none more so than freshman Stephanie Lanfear, whose aggressive play at the net helped lead the Skylights to a 36-34 game one victory. Lanfear went on to hammer down 21 kills, serve one ace and dig 13 serves in the match.
"Stephanie plays with a lot of heart and wants to win in the worst way," said Handley. "She stepped it up big this weekend."
Tech fought back to take the next two games 30-23 and 31-29, but MSU-N rallied in the fourth for a 28-30 win.
The Skylights combined wise net play by Andrea Knox and Hostetter with big hits set up by Gabrielle Chambliss to Lanfear and 6-teet-2 middle blocker Laura Munson to overcome defensive struggles that resulted in two Tech aces.
"Laura had a decent game, but she is usually more active," said Handley. "(Munson) currently leads the conference in hitting percentage and needs a lot more of the sets." Munson finished the night with nine kills and four digs.
Handley was pleased with the all-around performance of captain Hostetter and Tanja Bruski.
"As a senior (Hostetter) needs to step up and do it all the time," said Handley. "I'd rather see aggressive mistakes than free tips. She took charge both emotionally and on the floor against Tech."
Hostetter finished with 10 kills, three aces and 19 digs, Bruski with nine kills, two aces and eight digs, and Knox with 12 kills.
"Tanja (Bruski) is a spark plug for our team. She stepped it up both offensively and defensively."
The Skylights went on to seal the match with a 15-12 game five win.
Handley said her team has the athletic ability and skills to beat Rocky Mountain College this weekend, and it also looks forward to taking on Carroll College in full strength.