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Northern volleyball makes long-awaited return to the Armory tonight


October 24, 2018

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Hannah Amtmann and the Montana State University-Northern Skylights play their first home match in a month when they host the University of Providence Argos tonight at 7 in the Armory Gymnasium.

A month is a long time to not play in your own gym, but that's exactly how long it's been since the Montana State University-Northern Skylights last played a match inside the Armory Gymnasium.

That comes to an end tonight, however, as the Skylights take on arch rival, the University of Providence in a Frontier Conference match, with the first serve set for 7.

Not only has it been since Sept. 22 that the Skylights (0-8, 1-19) last played at home, but it's been even longer since Northern started its search for its first Frontier Conference victory of 2018. And MSU-N is still searching.

Yet the Skylights come back to Havre with some renewed optimism. Last Saturday at Lewis-Clark State, Northern played by far its best match of the season, as the Skylights pushed the Warriors to their limit in all three sets. Northern's improved hitting, led by Emily Gutierrez, and the play in the middle from Jessica Curl and Jordan O'Connor, gave the Skylights a chance to win at LC State, and while they didn't quite get over the hump, the Skylights are coming home with some much-needed momentum.

Of course, getting that first conference win won't be easy tonight. Providence (6-2, 17-7), is one of the top offensive teams in the Frontier, and one of the tallest, too. The Argos, led by outside hitter Kelsey Shaver (5-10) and right side hitter Sydney Andersen (6-3), are second in the Frontier in both hitting percentage and total blocking. So, on the attack, and against their attack, they are tough to beat. Paige Jensen (5-9) is also an outstanding setter for the Argos, who swept Northern last month in Great Falls.

UP won't be the only tough match on Northern's plate this weekend. The Skylights have to go back out on the road one more time, as they travel to Carroll College (4-4, 17-12) Saturday night. Carroll swept Northern last month in Havre, and while the Saints have had an up and down season, they're still a formidable foe.

Returning All-Conference hitters Brielle Bumgarner (MH 6-1) and Rayna Pilegram (S 6-0) lead a charged-up offense for Carroll, with Pilegram doing the setting, but the Saints are tall and tough defensively, too. Lexi Mikkelsen (OH 6-2) and Aliyah Williams (S 6-1) are tough on the block and Alya Carpenter (OH 5-9) anchors the back row.

Northern's match with Carroll will start at 7 p.m. Saturday in Helena. Tonight's match against the Argos also gets underway at 7 inside the Armory Gymnasium.


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