SIOUX FALLS, Iowa – In a postseason that has been full of theatrical wins, the Lewis-Clark State College women’s volleyball team served up one more to end its season on a high note.
Fighting off five game points during the match, the Warriors defeated Doane College of Nebraska 28-26, 21-25, 28-26, 22-25, 15-6 to complete pool play at the 30th annual NAIA Women’s Volleyball Tournament on Thursday night.
The victory left LCSC 1-2 in its pool, while Doane finished 0-3. Azusa Pacific, which defeated College of Idaho in four games on Thursday, won the pool with a 3-0 mark while College of Idaho was second at 2-1. Only the top two teams from each of the six pools advance to Friday’s single-elimination bracket play.
The Warriors finish the season at 25-9, which marked the third straight year under coach Jen Greeny the Warriors have won at least 25 matches. Greeny has a three-year mark of 81-21 and the Warriors have won or shared the Frontier Conference regular season title all three years while also winning the conference tournament each year. This was the Warriors’ 10th trip to the national tournament.
“It was a great match,” Greeny said. “They are a great defensive team and nothing was hitting the floor on their side, but we kept coming back at them. Some of our players really came up big tonight.”
Thursday’s win was the team’s fourth five-game victory in seven postseason matches. The Warriors won three five-game matches to get to pool play, including two at the Frontier Conference Tournament and then another in the NAIA first-round victory at Southern Oregon.
LCSC, however, suffered from a different trend in its first two pool-play matches as it lost in four games to both Azusa Pacific and College of Idaho. In both matches, LCSC won the first game but then lost the next three.
Against Doane, the Warriors again won the first game, but it took some doing. LCSC had to fight off three set points for Doane to claim the win. After losing the second game, the pool-play trend appeared to be happening again as Doane led in the third set and had two opportunities to win the set, but LCSC came through each time and eventually won the game.
After Doane took the fourth game, the Warriors left little doubt in the final game as they used a pair of 4-0 runs to race out to a 9-2 lead. Doane couldn’t get closer than four the rest of the way.
“We just kept battling, kind of the same thing we’ve done all year in the postseason,” Greeny said. “I think that shows this team really has a lot of heart and they are just going to fight until the end.”
Playing in their final match in a Warrior uniform, LCSC’s four seniors all stepped up big. Right-side hitter Dana Christiansen led the Warriors with a career-high 18 kills and a .385 hitting percentage, while All American candidate Anile Clemente had 16 kills. Middle blocker Dani Barrett also was in double figures with 10 kills. She also hit .500 for the match and added two blocks, while setter Lisa Davis added 28 assists and 15 digs.
“I think they just wanted to go out on a good note and they definitely did,” Greeny said of her seniors. “Dana had a great match, Lisa did a great job, Anile had a great tournament and Dani really came up big for us tonight.”
Greeny said Doane had a hard time stopping Christiansen and credited the Warrior setters for recognizing that and getting her the ball.
Junior Katie Hinrichs set a school record with 41 digs, which broke the mark set last year by then senior Lindsay Scott, who had 39 in a five-game regular-season match.
“I don’t think Katie played very well yesterday (against College of Idaho) but she is a competitor and really wanted to come out and play better and get that win,” Greeny said. “And it showed.”
Clemente added 18 digs, while junior Jenika Bird had 11 kills, which gave LCSC four players with double-digit kills, and led the club with 5.5 blocks. Kim Fong had a team-high 29 assists.
Doane, which finishes the season 29-10, was led by 16 kills from Terra Andreasen.
As a team, LCSC hit .205 for the match, which included a .412 hitting percentage in the final game. Doane hit .187, but had a negative-.050 hitting percentage in the fifth game. LCSC had the edge in kills 71-63, service aces 4-3, digs 109-97, and blocks 10-9.
“I think it’s great to end the season with a win,” Greeny said. “I know it doesn’t mean much as far as moving on in this tournament, but as far as the overall feeling, I think that this is really important. It’s nice to go out with a victory and be among the top 24 teams in country.”