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Skylights win three at Dickinson tourney

 

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The Montana State University-Northern volleyball team is about to start Frontier Conference play.

And after a second straight weekend of challenging nonconference matches, the Skylights look ready to take on the Frontier.

This past weekend, MSU-N went 3-1 at a tournament in Dickinson, N.D. Included in the three wins was a dramatic comeback in the Skylights' opening match against NCAA Division II Bemidji State. And overall, Northern improved to 7-3 on the season, already matching its win total from all of last season.

"It was another good weekend for us," MSU-N second-year head coach Bill Huebsch said. "I think we've seen improvement from week-to-week, and also as the matches go on. That really showed when we were able to come back against a really good Bemidji State team on Friday, and when we were able to turn things around against Black Hills State on Saturday after we lost to them on Friday. So I'm really pleased with how the weekend went and with how we played."

Against Bemidji, the Skylights dropped the first two games of the match, 25-12 and 25-18. But Huebsch made some rotation adjustments, and Northern stormed back to take the next three games by scores of 25-18, 33-31 and 15-9. The win was not only big for Northern because of the comeback, but because the Skylights beat perhaps one of the best teams they'll face all year.

"Bemidji is as good a team as we'll see in our conference," Huebsch said. "And they beat us pretty good the first two sets. But we made some changes to our rotation and we started playing much better in all phases. Those last three sets were barn burners and I'm just so proud of our kids, not only for the way they played, but for the way they hung in there. It was a great way to start our tournament."

Kaylee Bossert had 18 kills and four blocks in the win, while fellow senior Brittany Baker added 14 kills, and Jordan Merrill had 36 assists.

After the exciting win, MSU-N was right back on the court against Black Hills and perhaps fatigued from the five-set match, the Skylights dropped their only match of the weekend, falling to the Yellowjackets by scores of 25-19, 14-25, 25-22 and 25-19. Bossert had 16 kills and 11 digs, baker added 10 kills and Elise Davis had three blocks in the loss.

It didn't take Northern long to rebound however. On Saturday morning, the Skylights took care of Dickinson State by scores of 25-20, 23-25, 25-22 and 25-22. The win was the second in as many weeks over the Blue Hawks, and Bossert was again big, racking up 11 kills. Samantha Hutcheson added 11 digs and two aces.

MSU-N closed out its weekend with a rematch against the Yellowjackets, and on Saturday, the Skylights got some revenge. MSU-N swept BHSU by scores of 25-21, 25-22 and 25-17. Baker had 11 kills to lead the Skylight offense, while Tasha Dyrland had six digs and Merrill had 33 assists.

"It was a good weekend," Huebsch said. "I thought we did some really good things, and I saw improvement from our matches last weekend. Hopefully we can take this momentum and carry it over to our match with Montana tech on Thursday night.

With the preseason now behind them, the Skylights will open Frontier play Thursday night in Butte against the Orediggers. MSU-N will travel to UM-Western on Friday night.

 
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