Skylights shine, sweep Blue Hawks
The difference between the Dickinson State volleyball's performance on Friday and Saturday was night and day.
However, both results ended the same -- a loss.
Montana State University-Northern won in straight sets 25-16, 25-13, 25-12 Saturday at the Scott Gymnasium, putting DSU at 0-11 on the season.
Despite the loss, DSU head coach Jon Stenman was pleased that his team came out with more intensity and enthusiasm, compared to Friday's disappointing loss to University of Great Falls.
"Effort today wasn't the issue," Stenman said. "We came out strong, we stayed strong for most of the match. Unfortunately we played the best team in the conference and there's nothing more to say, they played well. That might be the best team we played all year and we played some tough competition."
Outside hitter Linaya Schroeder added: "Overall, I think we had more energy coming into the game and we maintained it throughout. I think it really helped out just keeping our spirits high and being able to work together."
DSU started the match well, keeping the score close, not being down by more than a point and keeping volleys alive.
But when the score was 10-8 DSU, Northern (11-4) went on a six-point run and led the Blue Hawks 14-10. The team got visibly flustered and began to make mistakes -- such as hitting the ball into the same area of the court multiple times and making net errors -- and allowed the Skylights to go on several multi-point runs throughout the match.
"When it came down to it, it was a matter of who can make the least amount of mistakes," DSU libero Tasha Malana said. "They were a very smart team, we'll give them that, but the ratio of their errors to our errors, there's were way low. They hardly had any errors as a team where we were the complete opposite."
Northern, who is No. 2 in the Frontier conference, seemed to have a near-perfect performance. Out of 98 total attempts, the Skylights had a mere nine hitting errors. Seniors Kelsey Williams and Abby Nicholas stood out statistically for Northern. Williams had 14 kills, nine digs and an ace, while Nicholas recorded 10 kills, 10 digs and an ace. The team overall, of course, played very well offensively and defensively and their style of play is what Stenman hopes his team can aspire to play like.
"Every ball they hit, it seemed like they dug," Stenman said. "Even balls in good spots they got to somehow, they willed themselves to get a lot of digs. They willed themselves to get the balls that frankly most teams won't."
So far this season, the Blue Hawk's strength has been in their defense and ability to dig a lot of balls. According to Northern's head coach Bill Huebsch, his team started out slower than normal thanks to DSU's challenging defense.
"Dickinson defended very well, dug up a lot of balls and they were scrappy," Huebsch said. "So we had to play a little smarter and we finally quit making a few unforced errors and I think that was the difference. We were able to get our offense in rhythm and run our offense the way we are used to."
DSU is off until Thursday when they travel to play the No. 1 ranked Lewis and Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. In practice, Stenman said the team will continue to work on strengthening its offense by moving around where it hits balls, not allowing five or six-point runs from opposite teams and remaining calm under pressure.
"Our young kids panic sometimes and they don't think straight they just need to keep themselves calm," Stenman said. "So we're going to have to see if we can out them in situations where they're going to get flustered and they're going to have to learn to calm down."
MSU 25 25 25 -- 3
DSU 16 13 12 -- 0
Kills: MSU, Kelsey Williams 14, Abby Nicholas 10, Dayna Jensen 6, Erin Jensen 5, Joni Nagy 2, Alexis Nelson 2, Haley Russell 1, Sydney Stolearcius 1, Annie Ferris 1. DSU, Melissa Avila 7, Kelly O'Connor 6, Linaya Schroeder 3, Aly Schieno 2, Natasha Malana 1.
Blocks: MSU, Nicholas 1. DSU, none.
Aces: MSU, D. Jensen 1, Williams 1, Nicholas 1. DSU, none.
Digs: MSU, Stolearcius 11, Nicholas 10, Holly Cartwright 10, Nagy 9, Williams 9, D. Jensen 4, Nelson 1. DSU, Avila 12, Malana 12, O'Connor 9, Morgan Lutz 3, Maggie Rauser 3, Tayler Weakley 2, Aly Schieno 1, Schroeder 1, Meghan Meyer 1, Whitney Weidow 1.
Assists: MSU, Nagy 29, Russell 1, Cartwright 1, D. Jensen 1, Williams 1, Nicholas 1. DSU, Lutz 11, O'Connor 4, Malana 1.
Records: MSU 11-4, DSU 0-11.