Northern volleyball aims to end regular season strong
Last updated 11/5/2021 at 10:04am
As the Montana State University-Northern volleyball season starts to come to an end, so too do the careers of the team's seniors. While their careers are nearing completion, the MSU-N seniors will get to play at Armory Gymnasium two more times. The Skylights will play Montana Tech tonight and Carroll College Saturday afternoon. With the regular season coming to an end, MSU-N head coach Jerry Wagner expects his team to play well.
"We're going to give them everything we possibly have," Wagner said. "We're playing as good as we have all season and we've faced these teams before. We've had success and we've had our disappointments but I feel like we got things sorted out."
The Skylights match Saturday against Carroll will be the team's senior day. In the pregame ceremony, the team will honor seven players. Elissa Lind, Rylee Burmester and Shania Neubauer will be honored after returning for an extra season of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though she did not get to play her final season because of an injury, Tammy Maddock will also be honored.
Abigail Ellison will also be honored along with the seniors. The Skylights will also honor their academic seniors, Shay Waldbillig and Jada Sudbrack, even though they will be returning to play next fall. Wagner believes this group of seven players should be honored together since they were all a part of his first recruiting class when he joined the program in 2019.
"Those seniors that came in have set the groundwork that any successful program needs in any area," Wagner said. "There's long-term commitment to the brand, the loyalty, the pride, the perseverance, the toughness, the work ethic, all the things that make any successful program."
The Skylights will open the weekend tonight with a match against Tech. The Orediggers have a 20-8 overall record and 6-3 conference record this season. In their previous meeting this season, Tech defeated MSU-N, 3-0, by scores of 25-16, 25-15 and 25-19.
The Orediggers have a pair of strong outside hitters on their team. Karinna Mickelson is second in the conference with 289 kills this season while her teammate Maureen Jessop is third with 284 kills of her own.
"(They got) strong jumpers. They play at that high level above the net and they hit the ball well," Wagner said. "As a group, easily the strongest group of outside hitters in the conference."
The Skylights will play again Saturday afternoon when they face Carroll. The Saints enter the weekend with a 12-12 overall record but 5-3 conference record. Carroll defeated MSU-N earlier this season, 3-0, by scores of 25-18, 25-22 and 25-19.
Carroll has many players who can make an impact Saturday afternoon. Taelyr Krantz leads the Saints with 282 total kills this season, a .288 hitting percentage and 103 total blocks. The Saints also have Julia Carr on defense who is second in the conference with 517 digs this fall. However, Wagner believes the system that Carroll runs will be the biggest hurdle for the Skylights.
"(They have) a little bit of an unorthodox alignment in their offense so that certain key players for them can be delivered the ball more often," Wagner said. "They have a couple of strong hitters and they're able to get their strong offensive players the ball frequently."
Along with facing a tough Carroll team, the Skylights will have to handle the emotions of senior day as they play. While he believes the emotions could carry over into the game, Wagner thinks his girls can refocus once they are on the court.
"Hopefully, we're on our game when it comes to handling those emotions," Wagner said. "I think they'll keep everything in perspective and handle it the right way."
With the Frontier Conference Tournament beginning next week, the Skylights will want to be playing their best. Over the course of their conference season, Wagner believes the Skylights have been up and down. However, he believes they have been consistent lately and that they will bring their best this final weekend of the season.
"We've learned from disappointment and we're back on our way," Wagner said. "The team is thinking really good thoughts about what we can accomplish yet in the regular season. This is all a build up, you want to be playing with these kinds of thoughts and emotions at the end of the year."
The Skylights play Tech at Armory Gymnasium tonight at 7 p.m. The Skylights will then hold their senior day Saturday at 2 p.m. against Carroll at Armory Gymnasium.