Warriors advance to quarters with win over APU
SIOUX CITY, Iowa - The Lewis-Clark State College women's volleyball team is finding its identity at the NAIA national tournament.
Part of that identity is that the Warriors are a national-caliber team and definitely belong among the nation's best.
The Warriors advance to the quarterfinal round of bracket play by defeating 8th-ranked Azusa Pacific 28-30, 25-13, 25-19, 25-19 on Friday morning. The win lifts the ninth-ranked Warriors to 31-2 on the season and into the final eight where they will face top-ranked and undefeated Lee University at 3:45 p.m. Friday. Lee, at 38-0, received a bye in the opening round of pool play.
The Warriors, as they did in two of their previous three matches at the national tournament, let a set get away from them when they had three serve opportunities to claim the opening set against Azusa Pacific.
"I know this probably doesn't make sense but after we lost 30-28, it felt like for the first time this was supposed to be," LCSC assistant coach Burdette Greeny said. "It felt like we were supposed to be here. We found the personality we need to have at the national tournament. We're playing with a lot of enthusiasm and making a lot of noise."
The Warriors made most of their noise at the net in the final three sets. After hitting just .118 in the opening set, the Warriors hit at least .343 in the final three sets and finished the match with a .286 hitting percentage.
Leading the way were juniors Deddiy Alaimaleata and Nicole Graybeal, who have enjoyed strong tournaments thus far. Alaimaleata had 18 kills and hit .484 for the match, while Graybeal added 16 kills and a .414 hitting percentage. The two combined for more than half of LCSC's 64 kills in the match.
"Nicole and Deddiy were unstoppable today," Greeny said. "They put everything down. But it was because of our passing and setting, which was outstanding."
Graybeal also had four of LCSC's seven service aces in the match and led the Warriors with 5.5 blocks. The Warriors outblocked the Cougars 13-11.
Greeny noted the Warriors had 65 digs in the contest, compared to 53 for Azusa Pacific, which ends its season at 30-8.
"We have outdug the other team in every match at nationals, which is a stark contrast to our previous trips here," Greeny said. "We played well defensively."
Senior libero Katie Hinrichs led the Warriors with 14 digs and also added a service ace. Kelli Tikker added 11 kills, 13 digs, and four assists, while Lauryn Herrick had nine kills, seven digs and 2.5 blocks.
Setters Kim Fong and Alyssa Wold finished with 28 and 21 assists, respectively, and Fong also had eight digs and a service ace. Jenika Bird-Jeppson added six kills, six digs, and two blocks.
The 31 wins during a season is the fourth-highest total in program history. The Warriors went 35-4 in 1996, the year when they advanced to the semifinals of the national tournament for its best finish ever.
Hinrichs now has 510 digs this season, which puts her seventh on the LCSC single season all-time list, while Herrick is second on the service aces list with 74
"We realize we belong in the final eight and it feels that way," Greeny said. "We feel we have a shot against Lee. We know they are a very solid club but we think we can maybe exploit a thing or two."
To follow the video live on a computer of the LCSC-LEE match, go to