Skylights travel to UGF
The 2010 NAIA volleyball season is already a month old and the Montana State University-Northern Skylights still haven't played a match on their home floor yet.
But that hasn't seemed to bother the Skylights who are off to their best start in six years. And before MSU-N can make its home debut next weekend against Lewis-Clark State and Westminster College, the Skylights have one more road match to take care of.
Tonight at 7, the Skylights will be in Great Falls to take on arch rival, the University of Great Falls and head coach Bill Huebsch is more than ecstatic at now just how his team is playing, but also the prospect of being 3-0 after three Frontier Conference road matches.
"It's going to be a tough match, it always is in Great Falls," Huebsch said. "UGF is getting back a couple of key players they were missing in the preseason, so we expect them to be much improved from what they've show so far.
"But we're playing well and I think we're going to keep improving," he added. "It's exciting because as well as we've started this season, I really believe our best volleyball is ahead of us, and hopefully that will show against UGF."
The Skylights are 9-3 overall, having already won two more matches than they did all of last season. But more importantly, MSU-N is 2-0 in conference play and is tied with LC State atop the league standings heading into tonight's showdown in Great Falls.
Northern's resurgence has much to do with the Skylights being a veteran team, but also has to do with some new faces stepping to make them, one of the deeper teams in the Frontier. Seniors Kaylee Bossert, Brittany Baker and Jordan Merrill are all playing at a high level right now for the Skylights, but transfers Elise Davis and Karyssa Bowron are making waves as well, as is freshman libero Holly Cartwright. Northern's depth is bolstered by savvy veterans like Sierra Diehl, Paige Richardson, Jenna Frankino and Tasha Dyrland.
"I think our depth has been a big key so far," Huebsch said. "We've been able to adjust rotations as we go, we've been able to do a lot of different things on the floor and kids are stepping up. We're getting contributions from everybody and that's making us a much more versatile team."
And that versatile team will try and turn around its series with the Argos tonight.
UGF has dominated the rivalry with Northern as of late, especially in Great Falls. But the Argos have struggled out of the gate, going 4-10 overall. UGF is 1-1 in league play, but the Argos are still trying to find their identity with a roster full of new faces.
But with returning powerhouses like Kelsey Vanuden and Tosha Nunes on the outside, the Argos are hoping to jump-start their season against a familiar foe tonight. And Huebsch will expect nothing less than the Argos best when the Skylights take the floor.
"I think they've struggled a little with all of the new additions to their team," Huebsch said. "They have a young setter and they've had some injuries. Plus they've played a really tough schedule. But they have a lot of talent. They have some really good players, so I have no doubt UGF will not only play us tough, but go on to have another strong season.
"We aren't looking at them as a team who's only won a few matches," he added. "We're expecting them to play well, and we have to go in there focused and ready to give our best effort of the season. The good thing is, they are a lot like Black Hills State and we've played them twice, so we're familiar with the style. Now we just have to go down there and execute and if we do, it should be a very good match."
Tonight's match between the Skylights and Argos is set to get underway at 7 at the McLaughlin Center in Great Falls.