By Rob Everingham
Its been a while since the MSU-Northern Skylights volleyball program has had two conference wins in a season, but just three games into the 1999 Frontier Conference season, the Skylights have done just that.
Northern was at home this weekend to square off against nationally-ranked Western Montana College Friday night and Montana Tech Saturday night.
The Skylights split their home-opening weekend, losing to the Bulldogs in three games 15-9, 17-15, 15-12. Northern rebounded Saturday night to beat the Orediggers in three straight, 15-12, 18-16, 15-12.
Friday night, Western jumped out to a 9-2 lead early in the first game, Northern came back and cut the lead down to 9-4. The Bulldogs rattled off three unanswered points to move to a 12-4 lead. The Skylights then came alive and battled back but trailed 12-9 before Western finished the job.
In game two, Northern exploded out of the game and went up 5-1. Western pulled back into the game but still trailed 6-4. Then Northern went on an 8-5 run to lead 14-5. The final point would elude the Skylights as Western rattled off 10 unanswered points and went on to win 17-15.
Northern was in the thick of it in game three, as well, as it took an early 4-2 lead. The Bulldogs battled back and took the their lead to 7-4. Again, the Skylights answered and led 12-8 at one point. However, Western scored seven in a row to win.
Against Tech, the first game was a battle as the two teams traded points and side-outs. The game was tied at nine when Northern went on a 5-1 run to lead 14-10. Again the final point was theirs, but the Orediggers cut the Skylights lead to 14-12 before the Skylights got their final point for the win.
In the second game, it was Tech who jumped out first and built a 10-3 lead. This is when the Skylights kicked it into high gear and went on a 10-1 run to take the lead from Tech at 13-11. The Orediggers battled their way back and the game was tied at 14-14 and then 15-15 before Tech took a 16-15 lead. Northern stayed tough and got the ball back and rattled off three straight to win the second game.
Again in the third, the lead see-sawed back and forth between the two teams with Tech up at one point 12-9. But again the Skylights answered and freshman Jaley Wacker had a big kill and game-winning block for Northern.
Northern head coach Lisa Handley said she was very pleased with how well her team played in both matches this weekend.
On Friday night, Handley said, she was both excited and disappointed. She said she was happy with how they jumped out on Western but displeased in the fact that when the Skylights had 14 points, the game-winning point could not be scored.
They need to get a killer instinct, Handley said.
Handley said her team needs to get used to winning, something it has not done a lot of in the past years.
Friday night, Handley said, the scores reflected how hard her team worked against the nationally-ranked Bulldogs.
Saturday night, Handley said, her team came out a bit sluggish, but she was pleased with how they were able to get the job done.
This is a big accomplishment, Handley said, proving to ourselves that we can win.
The Skylight hit the floor again this Wednesday night as they square off against Carroll College at 7 p.m. at the MSU-Northern gym.