By Heidi Boyum
Freshman power hitter Jasmine Mitchell, back on the court after a year off from volleyball and school, took charge of the net Friday night in the Skylight's contest against ninth-ranked NAIA Lewis and Clark.
Winnipeg, Canada native Mitchell connected with 12 kills hitting .375 percent, put up three blocks and four assisted blocks.
"Because she hasn't played for a year, she needed some time to get her timing on and to grow physically stronger and mentally tough," head coach Lisa Handley said. "I was extremely pleased with Jasmine (Mitchell). She stepped it up for us big time."
Earlier this year Mitchell saw right side playing time until sophomore Andrea Knox recovered from an injury. Part of the reason the Skylights changed to a 3-middle offense was to rotate Mitchell in said Handley.
In game one, L&C cut the Skylight's lead to two points, but a seven-point serving run from senior Lyndi Hostetter put MSU-N up by nine. Hostetter then used both smart-tipping and hard-hitting to smash the last four points of the 30-21 Skylight win.
"This is the first time our girls have taken any games away from Lewis and Clark," said Handley. "L&C is tough. We took it away, we didn't back down, we played consistent. They were probably surprised."
L&C won games two and three, but were unable to defend attacks from Mitchell, Knox and Tanja Bruski in game four.
The Skylights lost the match in game five 15-12.
Defensively, Stephanie Lanfear led the Skylights in digs with 16, followed by Bruski with 11 and Hostetter (10).
Westminster controlled game one of Saturday's match and had a grip on game two until a six-point serving rally by Hostetter put the Skylights in the lead. The rally included two aces, three kills by Lanfear and a block by Bruski. Knox racked up five serves in a row off three Westminster net violations and two blocks by Bruski.
"We came out a little flat on Saturday night, but part of it was because of our Friday night effort," Handley said. "I'm proud of their performance against Westminster. The old Northern would have just folded, but they didn't they just kept fighting back."
Part of the Skylights' motivation to fight back possibly stemmed from the high-decibel chanting and cheering of the crowd. Even the Westminster team commented on how the Havre crowd was into the games Handley said.
The Skylights fell in game three 30-22, won game four 31-29 and went on to take the match 15-12 in the fifth.
Knox finished the night with 17 kills, two aces, and 15 digs. Hostetter had 13 kills and 24 digs. Lanfear had 10 kills, three aces and 18 digs. Mitchell pounded 14 kills for the Skylights.
Middles Laura Munson and Knox racked up high attack percentages for the weekend at .709 and .326, respectively.
Handley said the outside hitters were not set up as well because Chambliss's best sets tend to be to the middles, but Mitchell still finished the weekend at .280 and Hostetter at .229.
The Skylights take on University of Great Falls rivals Wednesday at 7 p.m.