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One last Frontier tune-up for Northern volleyball

Skylights renew an old rivalry tonight at Dickinson State


September 13, 2019

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Rylee Burmester and the Montana State University-Northern volleyball team wrap up non-conference play with a match at Dickinson State tonight in Dickinson, North Dakota. The Skylights begin Frontier Conference play next week on the road.

It's been a long road for the Montana State University-Northern volleyball team. And given the fact the Skylights will open Frontier Conference play on the road next weekend, it's by no means over.

But the long haul of non-conference matches almost is, and it comes to an end tonight when the Skylights (6-6) visit the Dickinson State Blue Hawks in Dickinson, North Dakota.

Tonight's match is a renewal of a rivalry that hasn't been played out since 2015, when the Blue Hawks were part of the Frontier Conference for one season. Since then, the two teams have rarely seen each other, but new Northern head coach Jerry Wagner set out to change all that.

"It makes sense to play each other," Wagner said earlier this summer of Dickinson State. "We want to play more non-conference matches, and playing them (Blue Hawks), it's a good fit. It will be a good test for us, and a perfect way to go into our conference matches."

In many ways, the Blue Hawks are very much like a Frontier program, so tonight's match will be a great litmus test for the Skylights, who are coming off a 1-1 outing at last Saturday's University of Providence Tournament in Great Falls.

Northern, which is getting excellent production from hitters Rylee Burmester, Elissa Lind and Abigail Ellison, has been strong at times throughout the non-conference portion of the schedule. Tammy Maddock has emerged as a strong presence in the middle, along with veteran Katia Michelotti, while setters Shania Neubauer and Hailey Warren have both been sharp when their number is called.

Meanwhile, DSU is off to a really good start this early season. The Blue Hawks are 3-1 heading into tonight's match with the Skylights, and they boast a roster full of Montana-born players, including star senior Ellie Hanser (6-2) from Billings. So, there's no doubt, DSU will put the Skylights to the test tonight.

The match between Northern and the Blue Hawks starts at 5 in Dickinson, North Dakota. The Skylights then open Frontier play at Lewis-Clark State next Thursday, followed by a trip to Montana Tech next Saturday. Northern will finally be back in the Armory Gymnasium Sept. 25 when the Skylights host Providence.


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