Rocky sweeps Northern in title match

GREAT FALLS — It was the perfect scenario for the championship  match of the 2013 Frontier Conference volleyball tournament. The second-seeded Rocky Mountain College Bears facing the top-seeded and 24th ranked Montana State-Northern Skylights.

When all was said and done, it was No. 2 Rocky beating No. 1 MSU-Northern 3-0 (25-20, 26-24 and 29-27). The win gives the Bears the conference’s automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament. Northern will have to sit back and wait, but not for long.

Rocky-Northern stats

The Skylights are still alive for an at-large berth. The final Coaches’ Top 25 Poll will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. CST, along with the 36 qualifiers in the 2013 NAIA Volleyball National Championship Opening Round.

Rocky took control from the opening serve of the opening set. The Skylights led only once in the set, and that was early 3-2. The Bears went on an 8-2 run for a 10-5 lead and did not trail again in the set. Rocky build leads as big as seven while the Skylights could get no closer than three.

Set two was an entirely different story. Rocky scored the first two points but their lead was short lived. A Rocky hitting error and back to back kills by Abby Nicholas gave the lead back to the Skylights. The two teams then proceeded to entertain the crowd with great back and forth rallies. Neither team led by more than five. There were 10 ties and six lead changes. A kill by Rocky’s Yang Yang tied the set at 24. Yang scored again to give the Bears a one point lead and a receiving error by Northern closed out the match.

Down two sets to none, MSU-Northern came out on fire in the third set and built a 5-1 lead. The Bears came back to tie the set at 5-5. A Rocky attack error gave the Skylights a 6-5 lead and they would hold that lead for most of the rest of the set. The Bears tied the set at 24 on a kill by Kylie Nielsen. The teams then exchanged points and leads. Kylie Nielsen’s kill gave the Bears a 28-27 lead and a Northern blocking error was the deciding point in Rocky’s victory.

Yang Yang led Rocky with 14 kills followed by Nielsen with 13. Six Rocky players scored double digit digs led by Yang with 28 and Brooke Myers with 22.

Northern had two more kills than Rocky 46 to 44. Kelsey Williams led the Skylights with 16 kills followed by Nicholas with 12. Defensively, five Northern players had double digit digs led by Dayna Jensen with 32 and, Joni Nagy and Williams with 22.

Rocky improves to 24-6 while MSU-Northern falls to 26-6.

— Frontier Conference

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