Warriors roll past UGF for 15th straight win
Juniors Nicole Graybeal and Kelli Tikker helped the Lewis-Clark State College women’s volleyball team continue to swing away at the record book on Saturday as the ninth-ranked Warriors defeated the University of Great Falls 25-19, 25-21, 25-17 to remain undefeated in Frontier Conference play.
The Warriors won their 15th straight match to improve to 23-1 overall and 13-0 in league play. LCSC has never finished a regular season with just one loss and the last time the team went undefeated in FC play was in 1999, the first year the Warriors were in the league.
LCSC can achieve an all-time single-season winning percentage record next week when it closes out the season with a pair of home matches. On Wednesday, the Warriors play host to Whitman College in non-league play at 6 p.m., and then wrap up Frontier Conference action on Friday against Westminster at 7 p.m.
The Warriors continued their perfect march through FC play by setting the tone early in each game against UGF on Saturday. Although the Argos hung tough and rallied in the first two games, LCSC didn’t panic and led a combined 23 kills from Graybeal and Tikker, answered each Argo rally.
“I thought we did a good job of coming out taking care of business,” LCSC coach Jen Greeny said. “I really thought blocking kind of had its ups and downs but they (the Argos) are a really good hitting team.”
Graybeal continued her strong week by tying for match-high honors with 12 kills. She also had five of LCSC’s nine service aces, added seven digs, and had 1.5 blocks. She hit .550 for the match. Tikker added 11 kills, eights digs, a block and a service ace.
Their performances helped LCSC to its 16th three-game sweep of the season. LCSC is now 39-3 in games played in conference and 71-12 overall on the season.
The Warriors ran off 10 straight points in the opening game for a 10-2 lead, although the Argos rallied to tie it at 14-14. Graybeal then took over and had a kill along with two services aces to help the Warriors roll off three straight points and take the lead for good. Graybeal and Tikker added a kill apiece down the stretch to close out the match as the Warriors scored eight of the final 11 points.
The Warriors led 7-3 and 12-8 in the second game, but the Argos rallied to go up 19-15. After a Warrior timeout, LCSC ran off the next six points as Tikker had two kills and an assist, while Graybeal also had a kill to put LC ahead 21-19. UGF cut the lead to one, but the Warriors scored four of the final five points as Graybeal had two kills, a block, and a service ace to close it out.
“We do a lot of things in practice where we put ourselves in difficult situations so the players don’t panic when they are behind,” Greeny said of LCSC’s confidence. “We play steady and we showed that today. I’m proud of the way we came back in the second game.”
The Warriors led from start to finish in the third game, jumping out to a 13-5 lead and cruising from there.
Jenika Bird-Jeppson added five kills for LCSC, while Kim Fong had 16 assists and Alyssa Wold had 13. Katie Hinrichs led the Warriors with 13 digs, while Lauryn Herrick had two service aces.
As a team, LCSC hit .211 for the match, compared to .131 for Great Falls. LCSC also had a 7-5 advantage in blocks.
Taylor Lucero led the Argos with 12 kills and two blocks. UGF is now 7-17 overall and 4-8 in conference play.
The conference season wraps up next week and then all eight teams will be in Lewiston on Nov. 12-13 for the Frontier Conference Tournament. LCSC already has clinched the top seed and will play No. 8 seed Montana Western in the opening round, tentatively set for 6 p.m. on Nov. 12. The rest of the tournament pairings and exact match times won’t be set until after next week’s play.