Graybeal helps Warriors win FC title outright
Junior middle blocker Nicole Graybeal set the tone early and tied a season high with 18 kills to help the Lewis-Clark State College women’s volleyball team claim the Frontier Conference regular season title outright with a 25-13, 25-20, 25-21 sweep over Montana State University-Northern at the LCSC Activity Center on Thursday night.
The Warriors, who had already clinched no worse than a tie for the top spot at the top seed at the conference tournament in two weeks, claimed their fourth straight title under fourth-year coach Jen Greeny with their 14th consecutive win. LCSC is now 22-1 overall and 12-0 in conference play, while MSU-Northern falls to 11-10 overall and 4-7 in conference.
Graybeal, a 6-foot-2 native of Spokane, was simply dominating at the net. She set a season-high on the team in kills for a three-set match (the previous high was 13) and she hit .654 in the match with the 18 kills in 26 attempts. She also had five block assists as LC held a 9-7 advantage in blocks.
“Nicole, I thought, played really well,” LCSC coach Jen Greeny said. “She was our go-to person tonight.”
Graybeal, who had 18 kills in a four-set win over Rocky Mountain earlier this season, helped LCSC to its 15th three-set sweep this season. The Warriors are now 36-6 in sets in Frontier Conference play and 68-12 on the season.
“I think it was the sets, personally, from Kim (Fong) and Alyssa (Wold),” Graybeal said of her big night, compliments the Warriors’ two setters. “We just seemed to have a connection out there.”
Graybeal’s first kill gave LCSC the lead for good in the first set at 4-3. She also served five straight points and finished with five kills to help the Warriors score 10 of the final 12 points in the first set.
The second and third sets were much tighter as MSU-Northern led 6-2 and 15-14 in the second set. A block by Graybeal and Kelli Tikker tied the set, and another block by Graybeal and Demi Dlouhy finished off a 6-1 Warrior run. MSU-Northern cut the lead to three twice, the final time at 23-20, but a kill by Graybeal, her seventh of the set, and an attack error by the Skylights closed out the set.
LCSC led 8-4 in the third set, but Northern rallied to take a 10-9 lead. With the set tied at 12, the Warriors went on a 7-1 run, thanks in part to three kills from Graybeal. Northern again rallied to cut the lead to two, but LCSC answered each time and closed out the victory.
“I thought we came out in the first set and played well, but we did not play clean the rest of the way so I am disappointed with the second and third sets,” Greeny said. “I wasn’t happy with the way we played so that probably is what motivates us, to play clean and the right way.”
Tikker, who has been on fire the past month, finished with seven kills. Deddiy Alaimaleata and Lauryn Herrick added six kills apiece. Fong finished with 20 assists, while Wold added 19, while Katie Hinrichs had a team-high 16 digs and two service aces. Tikker added 14 digs.
The Warriors hit .294 for the match, compared to .125 for Northern.
LCSC will be back in action on Saturday when it plays host to the University of Great Falls at 2 p.m. It will be Boys and Girls Club Day at the match and all members will be admitted free if they wear their club shirt.