SIOUX CITY, IOWA - Bouncing back from a tough loss in the opening day of pool play, the Lewis-Clark State College women's volleyball team put together a dominating performance and rolled past Malone College of Ohio 25-16, 25-19, 25-14 at the NAIA National Tournament on Wednesday.
The Warriors , 29-2 overall, never trailed in the match in claiming their 20th three-set sweep of the season.
"We just didn't make the mistakes that we made the previous day," LCSC coach Jen Greeny said. "We came out and played well from the start. We served better, kept the ball in play and passed better today."
The victory keeps LCSC's hopes alive of advancing out of pool play as well as claiming the program's sixth season with 30 or more wins. LCSC went 30-4 two seasons ago and won a program record 35 matches during the 1996 season.
To advance out of pool play the Warriors will need to defeat No. 4-ranked Northwestern College of Iowa, which is 36-1 on the season after it suffered its first setback of the season on Wednesday. The two meet on Thursday at 6 p.m. Point Loma Nazarene, which defeated LCSC in five sets on Tuesday, knocked off Northwestern 28-30, 25-16, 25-20, 25-23 on Wednesday.
Only the top two teams from each pool advance to the single-elimination bracket format, which begins on Friday. Point Loma has secured one of the two berths from the pool, while the winner of the LCSC-Northwestern match will also advance.
As typical with the season, the Warriors had a balanced attack against Malone. Junior Deddiy Alaimaleata led the way with 10 kills and an amazing .833 hitting percentage, while junior middle blocker Nicol Graybeal added eight kills and a .238 hitting percentage. Junior outside hitters Kelli Tikker and Lauryn Herrick added seven and six kills, respectively.
Senior setter Kim Fong had 23 assists, while senior liberto Katie Hinrichs had an outstanding match with two of the team's five service aces along with a team-high 20 digs. Tikker added 13 digs and two block assists, while Graybeal finished with two blocks.
As a team, LCSC hit .225 for the match and had 41 kills, 62 digs, and five blocks. Malone finished with a .060 hitting percentage, 27 kills, 49 digs, and just one block.
"We did a great job defensively and kept the pressure on them," Greeny said. "We passed the ball better and moved the ball better."
Hinrichs set the tone for the first set when she scored the first point on a service ace andhelped LC race out to a 4-0 lead.
"That's a great thing (never trailing in the match)," Greeny said. "We were able to get out to a lead early and take it from there."
Malone, 33-9, cut the margin to 11-10, but two kills each from juniors Nicole Graybeal and Deddiy Alaimaleata helped the Warriors go on a 6-0 run. After Malone scored, Graybeal added another kill during a 4-0 run to push the margin to 21-11. The Warrior cruised from there.
The Warriors again took the early lead in the second set, although Malone was able to knot the score five times, including the last at 12. The Pioneeers, however, were unable to get over the hump and take the lead.
LCSC used a 3-0 run for a 15-12 advantage as Alaimaleata and Lauryn Herrick had kills, but Malone used a 4-0 run to tie the contest at 17. The contest again was tied at 18, but the Warriors scored the next four points on two attack errors, a kill by Graybeal, and a service ace from Hinrichs. After a point by Malone, the Warriors ran off the final three points to score seven of the final eight in the set. Demi Dlouhy and Alaimaleata had kills to close out the set.
The Warriors then took it to Malone early in the third set. With the contest tied a 2, the Warriors rattled off eight straight point. Kelli Tikker had two service aces and a kill, while Herrick added two kills. Graybeal also added a kill.
The Pioneers cut the margin to seven twice, while LCSC's lead did reach double digits at 11 at 19-8 after consecutive kills by Tikker and Alaimaleata. The two teams then basically traded points to the end when a kill by Jenika Bird-Jeppson ended the contest.
In looking ahead to Thursday's match, Greeny was complimentary of Northwestern College, which was one of only two undefeated teams in the NAIA during the season.
"They have a great team and I expect them to come out and play well," Greeny said. "But they are beatable."