Skylights fall at RMC, Carroll
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The Montana State University-Northern volleyball team has spent almost its entire season on the road.
And before the Skylights could begin a stretch of six of their next eight matches at home, they had to battle with two more tough Frontier Conference opponents on the road.
On Friday night, the Skylights were swept at Rocky Mountain College by scores of 25-21, 25-12 and 25-16 in Billings. And Saturday night in Helena, the Carroll College Fighting Saints took care of MSU-N in a tightly-contested four-set match. Carroll defeated MSU-N by scores of 28-26, 29-27, 23-25 and 25-21.
The two road losses dropped MSU-N to 2-5 in Frontier Conference play and 9-8 overall. After starting out 2-0 in league play, Northern has gone 0-5. And with a bye week coming up, MSU-N head coach Bill Huebsch said it will be good for his team to regroup and get ready for the second half of the season.
"I think of the last seven matches, we had a chance to win four of the five we lost," Huebsch said. "So while we're disappointed with what's happened the last few weeks, we have been competitive, we have been playing with a chance to win, and as much as you would like to win every match, you also want to have chances to win them. And at times, we've done that for the most part.
"So now we'll get back in the gym on Monday and get ready for the second half of the season," he added. "We have seen every team once now, so we'll get to work and hopefully we'll be a little bit better the second time we play all of these teams."
In Friday night's loss to Rocky, Huebsch said his team played very well in the first set and had a chance to win.
But after that, the team didn't respond and the Bears, who have been playing well as of late, maintained their high level of play.
In the loss, Kaylee Bossert had six kills and three blocks. Tasha Dyrland had 10 digs for Northern.
"It was a very competitive first set, we were playing hard and doing everything pretty well," Huebsch said. "But in the second and third set, we were just flat. I thought we served well, we passed well, but we didn't defend well, especially in the back row, and we didn't hit the ball very well at all. Rocky is a really scrappy team with a big block and when we were flat like that, it turned out to be the difference in the match."
But after a long bus ride to Helena, and losing Bossert, who had to be taken to the hospital with kidney stones on Saturday, the Skylights stood tall and battled Carroll down to the wire in four straight games.
The first two sets went well beyond 25, while Northern played extremely well in the third before Carroll finally overcame the Skylights in the fourth.
"I was really pleased with how the team responded to the adverse situation against Carroll," Huebsch said. "Not having Kaylee Bossert on the floor is tough for us, but the girls really rallied together and I thought we played a great match.
"We passed well again, we defended much better against Carroll then we did against Rocky and we were in a position to win every set. So while it was a tough loss, I was really pleased with how the team came back and played on Saturday night."
Against the Saints, Elise Davis stepped up and had a big 16 kills for the Skylights, while Jordan Merrill had 47 assists. Former Havre Blue Pony Holly Cartwright also had a strong match in the back row with 18 digs.
Now Northern and the rest of the Frontier Conference will have a week off. The Skylights return to the floor on Oct. 15 when they host Montana Tech. MSU-N will play host to UM-Western on Oct. 16.