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MSU-N volleyball wraps up the regular season on the road


November 7, 2019

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's Rylee Burmester smashes a ball past a Carroll College blocker during last Friday night's match in Havre. The Skylights finish the Frontier Conference regular season with matches tonight at Rocky Mountain College and Saturday afternoon at Montana Western.

If the Montana State University-Northern Skylights are going to take that important next step, they have to do it this weekend.

The Skylights have reached the final two matches of their 2019 Frontier Conference volleyball season, and they are still searching for that elusive first conference win.

Northern (0-10, 6-17) will try for that victory tonight when the Skylights visit nationally ranked Rocky Mountain College in Billings. MSU-N then closes out the regular season Saturday afternoon at Montana Western.

And while MSU-N remains winless in Frontier play, first-year head coach Jerry Wagner says his team isn't as far from victory as it may seem.

"They're giving us everything they've got," Wagner said. "And we've checked off a lot of goals this season. We've gotten better and better. We just have to get more consistent now."

Consistency is the key. The Skylights have gone toe-to-toe in sets and matches with virtually everyone in the league at one point this season, so they know they're on the right track.

But, overall, MSU-N needs to rise up in key areas, including hitting percentage, where the Skylights are last, as well as blocking, where they're also last in the Frontier.

Of course, advancing in those areas isn't easy, not in the Frontier where every single match is so difficult. And that will be the case tonight in Billings, as the Skylights take on a Battlin' Bears (7-3, 17-11) that has slumped lately but is still in a four-way fight for the Frontier's regular season championship. Rocky, led by Daniella Russell's 303 kills this season, also swept Northern last month in Havre.

Things won't get any easier for the Skylights Saturday when they travel to Dillon. But Northern will also be fired up to play Western (1-9, 8-16) because, the Skylights know, the match against the Dawgs in Havre was the one they let get away. Now, on the final day of the regular season, the Skylights have a chance to turn around the five-setter they lost to Western in the Armory Gymnasium, and that would be a fitting way to go into the postseason.

And the postseason is just around the corner. The Frontier Conference Tournament is slated for next Friday-Saturday in Great Falls.

But first, the Skylights will play Rocky tonight at 7 in Billings, followed by a 2 p.m. match with Western Saturday in Dillon.


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