Five Warriors and Greeny earn FC honors
The Lewis-Clark State College women’s volleyball team dominated the Frontier Conference awards by picking up three major awards and having four players earn first-team all-conference honors, league commissioner Kent Paulson announced Thursday night at the LCSC Activity Center.
The awards were announced during a social to help kick off the conference’s postseason tournament, which begins Friday at the LCSC Activity Center.
Nicole Graybeal (left photo), a 6-foot-2 junior middle blocker from Spokane, earned both the conference’s Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year awards. Graybeal transferred to LCSC after two years at Spokane Community College and led the Warriors solo blocks and block assists, and was second on the team in kills, hitting percentage and service aces.
Warrior coach Jen Greeny captured her fourth straight FC Coach of the Year honor. During all four seasons Greeny has been coach, LCSC has either tied or won the conference title outright. This season, the Warriors went 14-0 in conference play to become the first team to go undefeated in FC volleyball match since the 1999 Warrior squad. That also was LCSC’s first year in the Frontier Conference.
The Warriors also had three players, all juniors, join Graybeal on the first-team. Outside hitter Lauryn Herrick, who was as second-team selection last year, joins outside hitter Kelly Tikker and right-side hitter Deddiy Alaimaleata on the conference’s first team. Graybeal, Herrick, Tikker, and Alaimaleata all earned conference Player of the Week honors once during the season as well.
LCSC senior libero Katie Hinrichs was a second-team selection.
Graybeal made an immediate impact for the Warriors. She has 229 kills on the season and hit .350. She reached double digits in kills 10 times during the season, including five of the final six matches she played in. She also had 44 service aces and 106 blocks, including 22 solo blocks. Her best match of the season came two weeks ago when she had 18 kills and hit .654 for the match.
“I just think she has gotten better and better as the year has gone on,” Greeny said of Graybeal. “She’s really played well for us.”
Herrick, who is from Cyprus, Calif., had 203 kills and hit .283 on the season. She was relied upon heavily early in the season while the newer players went through some adjustments. Herrick had double-figure kills in six of LCSC’s first nine matches and had nine kills in two other matches. Herrick, at 5-11, also led the Warriors with 59 service aces and finished with 37 blocks.
Alaimaleata, who is from Pago Pago, American Somoa, transferred to LCSC from New Mexico Military, a junior college. The 6-1 Alaimaleata had 10 matches with double-digit kills, including a season-best 20 against Rocky Mountain when she also hit .655 for the match. She led the Warriors with a .374 hitting percentage and is tied with Graybeal for second in kills with 229. She also has 68 blocks, including 12 solo blocks, 40 assists, and 36 digs.
The 5-9 Tikker did it all for LCSC this season. She is from Nine Mile Falls, Wash., and is in her second year of the program after transferring from Gonzaga. She leads LCSC with 275 kills and has had 15 matches with 10 or more kills, including seven of her last eight and 9 of her last 11. She hit .227 on the season and had 30 service aces along with 16 assists. She also finished second on the team in digs with 249.
“I was really happy we had four players on the first team and one on the second team,” Greeny said. “It really just shows at any given time that any one of our players can be the one we go to.”
Hinrichs, who is from Pullman, had a solid final year for LCSC with a team-best 405 digs. She also is third on the team in service aces with 34.
Greeny said the Coach of the Year award is nice, but it goes beyond her.
“It’s really about the players we have brought in and the job the assistant coaches have done, and not about me,” Greeny said. “To be coach of the year, you have to have great support from the administration and we have that.”
The Warriors are the top seed in the conference tournament and will start play at noon against No. 8 seed Montana Western at noon, followed by No. 4 seed Westminster and No. 5 seed Montana Tech at 2 p.m. The second session has No. 2 Rocky Mountain and No. 7 Montana State-Northern at 5 p.m., followed by No. 3 seed Carroll and No. 6 seed Great Falls at 7 p.m. The semifinals are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday with the championship match at 7 p.m. that night.
LCSC has won the last three tournament titles and is 35-0 at home against Frontier Conference foes under Greeny.