The little things paid off in a big way for the Lewis-Clark State College women’s volleyball team because the Warriors earned a share of the Frontier Conference regular season title with a 25-19, 25-21, 25-20 win over Carroll College in the regular-season finale for both teams at the LCSC Activity Center on Saturday.
LCSC made the key blocks, small adjustments during the match, and played solid overall in the sweep. The victory means Carroll and LCSC share the conference title with 11-3 records and could be joined by Great Falls, which needs to defeat Montana Western on Saturday night to also finish 11-3.
It’s the third straight year LCSC has either won outright or shared the conference title and also marks the third straight season LCSC has reached the 20-win plateau. The 24th-ranked Warriors are now 20-7 on the season.
It was an emotional match for LCSC. As well as playing for a share of the conference title, the Warriors were celebrating Senior Day to honor the four seniors on the squad.
“It was awesome today,” said senior right-side hitter Dana Christiansen, who led the Warriors with 11 kills. “We were playing a good team and we were on a mission out there.”
The Warriors only trailed 2-0 and 2-1 in the second set and were able to set the tone for most of the match. That made a big difference from when the two met earlier in the season in Helena, Mont., and Carroll won 25-20, 17-25, 25-21, 25-21.
“We came out very focused and played well,” LCSC coach Jennifer Greeny said. “I don’t necessarily think Carroll played their best match. But we were much more focused and I thought we played a much smarter than when we played them over there.”
The Warriors, led by Jenika Bird, jumped out early on the Saints in the opening set with some big blocks. LCSC outblocked Carroll 7-2 on the day, including 4-0 in the first set. That helped the Warriors grab an 11-3 advantage.
Carroll managed to cut the lead to four twice at 17-13 and against at 22-18, but the Warriors used some timely kills and some hitting errors by the Saints to close out the set.
The Saints went to quicker sets in the second game, but the Warriors were able to adjust to overcome the early deficit. LCSC went on a 10-3 run to open up a 10-5 lead, and although Carroll rallied twice to tie the score at 18 and again at 21, the Warriors responded with kills by Demi Dlouhy and Anile Clemente before Kelli Tikker closed out the set with a service ace.
“We made some nice adjustments during the match,” Greeny said. “Hopefully we’ve matured as players to be able to do that at the end of the season.”
The Warriors led 9-4 in the third set, but the Saints again kept it close, cutting it to 10-9. The Warriors, however, used three kills apiece from Christiansen, Clemente, and Lauryn Herrick to claim the sweep. It was the seventh sweep in conference play for the Warriors.
LCSC has won the last two conference tournaments and has posted a 76-19 record over the past three seasons.
“I think it’s phenomenal,” Greeny said of the third-straight regular-season title. “I’m really proud of this team. They have fought back through adversity and sickness, and our conference being as tough as it has ever been.”
Christiansen was the only Warrior in double-figures in kills and hit a team-best .400 for the match.
“I was very emotional,” Christiansen said about Senior Day. “It makes you realize that you never know what can happen or when it can all end. But I think we’ve got even more in us for the conference tournament. You haven’t seen us at our best yet.”Greeny said it’s nice to have the conference tournament at the Activity Center, but again pointed out how much better the conference is this season.
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” she said.
LCSC will play at 6 p.m. no matter its seed. There was some confusion as to how the ties would be settled. The conference will release the official pairings on Sunday.