The Montana State University-Northern volleyball team is less than a year removed from one of its best season's in school history. Now however, the Skylights are just eight days from the start of the next chapter.
But before Northern embarks on its season-opening road trip to Spokane next weekend, fans can get their first glimpse of the Skylights tonight when they hold their annual Maroon-Gold Scrimmage at the Armory Gymnasium. The intra-squad scrimmage begins at 6 and is expected to last about two hours.
"It will be good for us to get the jitters out," said veteran head coach Bill Huebsch. "We need to get out and play in front of someone other than ourselves. It's good to play in front of a crowd, to play with a live whistle. We are just looking to get better every day and get ready for Spokane in a couple weeks."
The scrimmage will be important for the Skylights, who graduated five seniors off of last season's historic team. Among those Northern has to replace is 2013 Frontier Conference Player of the Year Abby Nicholas, as well as setter Joni Nagy and four-year starting libero Holly Cartwright.
Of course, MSU-N does have some key talent returning, including hitters Dana and Erin Jensen, both of whom started a year ago. But in all, Northern will be breaking in a host of new starters, and with two weeks of pre-fall practice in the books, Huebsch said things have gone well.
"Things have been good so far," Huebsch said. "The kids have been working hard and right now we are just trying to figure out who we are. We lost some good players from last season that we need to replace, and we have a lot of youth but we are just going to keep working and hopefully be where we want to be come November."
Things will have to go well for Northern early on as the Skylights play a severe set of road matches in August and early September. Northern will face nationally ranked teams in Spokane, Nebraska and Helena before opening Frontier play at Lewis-Clark State Sept. 11. MSU-N will finally play its first home match of the season Sept. 19 against defending Frontier champion Rocky Mountain College. The next night, the Skylights will remain at home to host rival Carroll College.
Tonight's Maroon/Gold Scrimmage is set to start at 6 at the Armory Gymnasium. Fans are encouraged to attend and admission to the scrimmage is a donation of one item of non-perishable food.