LEWISTON, Idaho – The words “dramatic fashion” do not do justice the manner in which Lewis-Clark State crawled its way back to defeat Carroll College at the Holiday Inn Express Frontier Conference Volleyball Tournament on Saturday afternoon. The Warriors were all but run over in the first set, lost a heartbreaker of a second set, and were two points away from being ousted from the tournament in the fourth set, but somehow the Warriors found a way to stage a comeback that won’t soon be forgotten by the fans who witnessed it.
LCSC topped Carroll in five sets 15-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-23, 15-10. The win sends LCSC into the title match to face Great Falls which will kickoff at 7 p.m.
"I am really proud of the way we fought back,” LCSC coach Jen Greeny said. “That's very difficult to do against a team like Carroll.”
Carroll had its way with the Warriors, now 22-7, in the first set as it slammed its way to a .324 hitting percentage and held the Warriors to only .051.
The second set was closer but had the potential of being even more disheartening for the Warriors than the first set. The Warriors built at 19-16 lead only to see it slip away in the final volleys.
"After the first two sets, I think we really came together," said LCSC senior Anile Clemente who finished with a game high 22 kills. "We told each other we can do this."
The Warriors came onto the floor in the third set with a noticeable energy and confidence, and quickly jumped to a 5-0 lead. Carroll did turn the tide and tied the game up at 6-6, but from here the Warriors grabbed the momentum and rolled with a .300 hitting percentage and seven blocks to hold Carroll’s hitting mark to -.073.
Conference Player of the Year Christina Smetana and the Saints stayed one or two points ahead of the Warriors for the majority of the fourth set until the lead was stretched to four at 21-17. The Warriors then rattled off four unanswered points via a placement shot by Clemente into the corner, a service ace by Stephanie Shumaker, a powerful kill by Clemente, and then a kill by Dani Barrett. Then with the score tied 23-23 Clemente pounded another kill off the hands of the opposing blockers to take the lead, followed by an attack error on Carroll to end the set.
"We had chances to put it away and we didn't,” Carroll coach Maureen Boyle said.
Boyle’s squad falls to 26-9. Because Carroll was ranked No. 23 in the final NAIA Top 25 poll, there is a chance that the Saints could receive an at-large berth to the national tournament.
In a match full of great defensive plays, LCSC’s Katie Hinrichs, who had two aces and came up with big serves at key moments, led with 26 digs, while teammates Stephanie Shumaker and Clemente finished with 21 and 19, respectively. Maureen Frauenholtz led Carroll with 23 digs.
At the net, Jenika Bird was instrumental in slowing down the hard hitting Saints. Her five blocks helped LCSC to a 14-11 blocking advantage.
Kim Fong had 27 assists and Lisa Davis had 26 for LCSC. Caitlin Tocci had 24 and Katie St. John had 18 for Carroll. Alyssa Wold finished with three of the Warriors’ seven aces.
The stage is now set for a battle between the tournament’s No. 1 seed Great Falls and second-seeded LCSC over who will be crowned tournament champion.