Hawks punch playoff ticket

Hunter Plante, Staff Writer

The University of North Dakota volleyball team is having one of the best seasons in school history.

The Fighting Hawks currently sit at 19-9 overall, and 10-2 in the Big Sky Conference.

The Fighting Hawks dominated both Montana and Montana State in their last trip to Montana. UND will now return home for two matches this weekend against Eastern Washington on Thursday, and Idaho on Saturday.

Last Friday night in Missoula, it was UND who continued the dominance over the Montana Grizzlies. UND didn’t play its best volleyball game, but Head coach Pryor was proud of his girls for playing an “ugly” game, and still being able to come out on top.

“Having three matches in one week this time of year is tough. Having them in three different locations is tougher,” coach Mark Pryor said. “I like that we were able to just let go of set two and come out and play well in sets three and four. Both sets were close late, but I really like how resilient the team was in finishing those sets to finish the match.”

The win on Friday night clinched a Big Sky playoff birth for  Mark Pryor.

Having three matches in one week this time of year is tough. Having them in three different locations is tougher

— Mark Pryor - coach

In the Big Sky, only the top seven teams in the regular season standings make the playoffs, with the top team, overall, hosting the Big Sky conference tournament. UND is the second team, along with Northern Arizona, that have clinched a postseason birth so far.

The win on Saturday night sees the Fighting Hawks tied for first place in the Big Sky with those Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona.

In the North region of the Big Sky, UND is in first place.

The final two weeks of the season should be monumental. UND needs to take care of business this weekend against two solid teams, and if they do take care of business, it will set up a matchup of the top two teams battling to see who will host the Big Sky tournament.

The Fighting Hawks will travel to Flagstaff, Ariz. for a humongous matchup against the Lumberjacks.

That game could be what makes or break the Fighting Hawks high postseason hopes. Although the Hawks have soared on the road this season, they have been even better in the friendly confines of the Betty Englestad Sioux Center.

UND holds a 7-3 record at the Betty, being undefeated in conference play in Grand Forks.

UND volleyball is flying high right now, and the Hawks are going to be fighting for a playoff berth in three weeks, whether it’s at the Betty or in Flagstaff.


Hunter Plante is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]