LCSC sweeps Westminster to finish FC play undefeated
LEWISTON, Idaho – Kelli Tikker and Nichol Graybeal led a powerful hitting attack to help the Lewis-Clark State College women’s volleyball team become the first Frontier Conference team to go undefeated in league play in 11 years as the Warriors wrapped up the regular season with a 25-18, 25-19, 25-20 victory over Westminster on Senior Night at the LCSC Activity Center.
The Warriors finish FC play at 14-0, the first team to do so since the 1999 Warrior squad. That also was the first year LCSC played in the conference.
The win also was LCSC’s 25th straight at home, a program record, and gave the Warriors a 25-1 record on the season, also a program record for best winning percentage during the regular season.
The Warriors, ranked No. 9 in the NAIA, have won or shared four straight regular season conference titles under coach Jen Greeny and will go for their fourth straight conference tournament title next week at the Activity Center. The single-elimination eight-team tournament kicks off with four matches on Friday. The Warriors will be the top seed and will play No. 8 seed Montana Western at 6 p.m. The semifinals are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday and the championship match will be at 7 p.m.
The remainder of the conference pairings won’t be set until league play wraps up on Saturday. Westminster will be the No. 4 seed and will play either Great Falls or Montana Tech on Friday at 8 p.m.
After honoring the team’s four seniors – Jenika Bird Jeppsen, Demi Dlouhy, Kim Fong and Katie Hinrichs – as well as team manager Kelsey Schultheis during a pre-match ceremony, the Warriors got down to business and picked up their 17th straight win. It also was LCSC’s 18th 3-0 sweep this season.
Each set was fairly tight midway through, but the Warriors’ attack proved to be to much for Westminster, which finishes league play at 7-7 and is 11-12 overall.
Tikker, a junior outside hitter, finished with a match-high 12 kills and hit .381, while Graybeal, a junior middle blocker, added 11 kills and a .474 hitting percentage. The Warriors finished with a .340 hitting percentage for the match.
“I thought we hit extremely well,” Greeny said. “I was really proud of the way our offense hit tonight.”
Junior outside hitter Lauryn Herrick added eight kills, but it was her spinning jump serve that really caused Westminster problems.
In the first set, the Warriors led 12-11, but rallied for five straight points behind Herrick’s service. Graybeal and Tikker had two kills apiece, while Herrick had one of her four service aces. After Westminster made it 17-12, the Warriors ran off three straight points, including two on service aces by Graybeal. Westminster could get no closer than six the rest of the way.
In the second set Westminster took the early lead and led by as much as 13-6 before the Warriors rallied with a 10-1 run for a 16-14 lead. Westminster tied the set twice, the final time at 17, but attack and service errors hurt Westminster down the stretch as the Warriors pulled away.
Westminster grabbed a 6-0 lead in the third set, but again the Warriors put together a nice rally and tied it at 13. The Warriors scored the next point and proceed to go on an 8-2 run to take control and claim the win.
“I think this group is really focused and they came out and showed it tonight,” Greeny said.
LCSC finished with eight service aces and also had a 5-1 advantage in blocks.
Fong and Hinrichs each had 12 digs for the Warriors, while Tikker added nine. Dlouhy finished with two blocks, while Fong added 17 assists and Alyssa Wold had 14 assists.
Greeny said the team didn’t put an emphasis on going undefeated in conference play, but did say it does mean something.
“It does because I think the conference is better every year,” she said. “This group has been able to stay focused throughout the season.”
Hinrichs said the team only talks about records and going undefeated during short moments at practice when they are working on the little things to make sure they do them right.
“Tonight, for me, was not so much emotional about it being Senior Night but to go 14-0,” Hinrichs said. “I think that is really special and shows what kind of team we have.”
Both Fong and Hinrichs have gone 106-22 during their playing careers at LCSC, including a 49-2 record at home.
“It just really is, to me, more about the coaching staff and what they have done here,” said Hinrichs, who played for Greeny at Pullman High prior to LCSC. “Jen and Burdette brought in great players and winning the championships is a great bonus.”