Earlier this season, I wrote a column about how even though the Montana State University-Northern volleyball team was playing the best it has in six-plus years, there would still be some bumps in the road.
And since the day that column ran, there have been plenty of bumps and roadblocks in the Skylights’ way this season.
But those same obstacles have seemed to help Northern grow along the way, and this past weekend, MSU-N showed its home fans just how much growing the team has done over the course of this season.
Last Thursday night, Northern dismantled UM-Western in three sets, and this a Western a team which is perhaps the most improved team in the Frontier Conference, and a squad which took Northern to the brink of defeat last month in Dillon.
But as well as the Skylights played against the bulldogs, they saved their best for last.
Northern’s final home match of the season on Saturday was a testament to the Skylights’ resolve, dedication and determination to become a better program, from head coach Bill Huebsch and on down through the roster. And all that resolve burst out in the open as Northern made a very-good Westminster team look amateurish at best.
It was an impressive display of volleyball from start to finish Saturday, but in fact, the Skylights have been pretty impressive at the Armory Gymnasium all season long.
It wasn’t all that long ago that the Northern volleyball program was fighting to win one or two conference matches in an entire season. But in 2012, Northern played at home eight times and lost just once – a five-set loss to rival Great Falls.
The Skylights truly made the Armory a real home-court advantage this year, and if you take out the UGF match, Northern made some magical memories in the refurbished gym this season. It started with a season-opening, four-set stomping of Carroll College back in September, and the Skylights closed out that month with a thrilling five-set win over nationally-ranked Lewis-Clark State. Northern also drubbed the likes of Montana Tech, Rocky Mountain College and Western at home, before putting the finishing touches on the brilliant season in Havre with Saturday’s mauling of the Griffins.
“It was a great way to go out,” Huebsch said. “For our seniors, but really for this entire team. We played well at home for the most part all year and today is a memory they will all have for the rest of their lives. I’m just really happy for these girls.”
And happy is the way the home portion of Northern’s season ended Saturday.
And though these Skylights aren’t done yet, as they have two more matches this weekend and then the Frontier Conference tournament to look forward to, they have certainly given us all some great volleyball memories this season.
This group of Northern players has had the Armory rocking this fall, they have played some the best volleyball a Northern team has played in more than a decade, and they have done it in front of some great home crowds.
It’s been a great ride in Havre and one I’m sorry to see come to an end. But it’s only the end of the beginning because I think Skylight volleyball is here to stay.
The program has come a long ways and has grown by leaps and bounds, this season alone. And if Saturday is any indication, MSU-N volleyball is on the map for good.