LCSC opens pool play vs. Azusa Pacific
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – They may not be in their perfect comfort zone, but the Lewis-Clark State College women’s volleyball team is in a good place.
After battling nerves and the newness of playing at the NAIA National Tournament the past two years, the Warriors are expected to be a little more comfortable with their surroundings when the pool play portion of the tournament kicks off on Tuesday.
The majority of the team has been to at least one national tournament at Sioux City, while six players are making their third trip. It also doesn’t hurt that the Warriors have played two of the three teams in their pool this season and have enjoyed success.
Still, how the Warriors respond won’t be known until they open play on Tuesday against Azusa Pacific, the tourney’s No. 5 seed. The match is at 3:45 p.m. at the Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena. All matches at the tournament feature live statistics and play-by-play on the Internet.
To follow LCSC’s match, visit the LCSC athletic web site at www.lcsc.edu/athletics and click on live stats next to the match in the Warrior Calendar & Scoreboard section.
LCSC is the No. 20 seed among the 24 teams that are divided into six pools. Each pool features round-robin play and the top two teams from each pool advance to the 12-team single-elimination bracket format of the tournament, which opens Friday.
The Warriors are in the same pool as Azusa Pacific, No. 8 College of Idaho and No. 17 Doane of Nebraska. At first glance, this would seem LCSC to be a longshot to make the bracket portion of the tourney.
LCSC, however, defeated Azusa Pacific in four sets earlier this season in California and also took College of Idaho to five sets before falling in the final set 17-15 in a match that easily could have gone either way. Because Doane also defeated Azusa Pacific earlier this season, LCSC’s pool appears to be wide open.
“I think we feel good,” LCSC coach Jen Greeny said. “I think it’s a tremendous help that most of the players have been to nationals before and that we’ve played a couple of these teams and have had some success. Of course both of these matches were early in the season and Azusa and College of Idaho are playing much better now. But we’d like to think we’ve also improved since then.”
The Warriors are 24-7 overall, while Azusa Pacific, which plays in the Golden State Athletic Conference – easily the top NAIA conference for volleyball – is 24-8. College of Idaho brings a 24-2 record into the tourney, while Doane is 29-7.
Greeny said the team didn’t do anything that different this past week from its normal practice routine. She said the team did talk about what to expect at the national tournament.
“We spent most of the time just focusing on ourselves and doing the little things that we need to do,” she said. “We wanted to focus on what we need to do to be successful because I think we were pretty good at making adjustments during our matches this season.”
The Warriors play one match a day in pool play. On Wednesday, LCSC and College of Idaho meet, also at 3:45 p.m. LCSC and Doane square off Thursday at 6 p.m.
The key to a good national tournament, Greeny says, is what has fueled the Warriors so far this season – a balance attack.
“We really need to have a balanced attack and it all starts with our passing,” she said. “And when we block well we have been successful.”
This is LCSC’s 10th appearance in the national tournament and makes them just one of six teams in this year’s tournament with 10 or more appearances. Fresno Pacific, which is the No. 1 seed, is making its NAIA leading 19th appearance, followed by Columbia (Mo.) at 16, Georgetown (Ky.) with 14, California Baptist at 13, and Point Loma Nazarene at 12.
The tournament banquet was scheduled for Monday night where LCSC senior Dani Barrett is being honored as the team’s Champion of Character award winner.