Warriors win wild one against Westminster
LEWISTON, Idaho – In one of the most back-and-forth Warrior matches to be played inside the Activity Center in recent years, the Lewis-Clark State College volleyball team came out on top against Westminster College on Friday night. It took every bit of five sets, but the Warriors were victorious over the scrappy Griffins 25-27, 28-26, 23-25, 25-19, 15-13.
Westminster, surging recently in the Frontier Conference with four straight wins, brought every bit of hustle they could muster to Lewiston and made the No. 14-ranked Warriors dig deep for the win.
“They came fired up to play,” said LCSC head coach about the Griffins who held a 2-1 lead after the third set. “They’re very scrappy, and a very good defensive team.”
Now riding a five-match win streak, the Warriors looked to their outside hitters to pound the way to a lead early on, but quickly learned that the strong defense of the Griffins would call for a change of attack.
Despite hitting .156, the Warriors worked to leads of 12-6, 21-17, and 24-21 in the first set, however, the Griffins rallied behind the strong play of hitter Kenzie Mitchell to score five of the last six points and steal the set. Mitchell ended set one with back-to-back service aces.
In the second set, Lewis-Clark State looked to its middle blockers to help broaden its offensive options.
“Westminster was really focusing on our outside hitters, so I knew we needed to get the middle more involved,” said Harris. “Nicole [Graybeal] and Liz [Clark] really stepped up for us and did a good job.”
The lead changed hands in the second set even more than it did during the first, but this time the Warriors were able to close it out down the stretch thanks to a .255 hitting percentage and some remarkable defensive returns. Graybeal had three kills late in the set to help the Warriors overcome a 23-21 deficit.
The score of the third set stayed just as tight as the second, but this time the Griffins caught fire late and worked to a 24-20 lead. Two kills by Kelli Tikker and one by Brianne Brown brought the score to 24-23, however, a slam by Ashley Marchant ended the set and put the Griffins up 2-1.
LCSC, now 11-3 overall and 5-1 in conference play, played some of its best volleyball during set four and as a result grabbed a comfortable lead of 20-11. The Griffins, a team which never seems to stop trying, made it interesting by battling back to 22-16, however, the lead was too much to overcome and the Warriors took the win and forced a fifth set.
Staying true to the back-and-forth theme of the match, the Warriors started with a 1-0 lead in the fifth, the Griffins responded with a 6-2 advantage, LC came back to make it 9-8, and the Griffins tied it at 10-10. From here the scored knotted again at 12-12, and once more at 13-13. The Warriors then won a very long volley with a kill from Graybeal to take the lead, and followed this with a volley-ending block from Graybeal and Lauryn Herrick to take the set and the match.
The Warriors outhit the Griffins .211 to .180 overall and also had a 8-7 lead in blocks. Westminster, now 7-8 overall and 4-3 in the conference, had a 9-7 edge in service aces.
Graybeal, Tikker, and Brown led LCSC with 16 kills apiece. Graybeal finished with a .382 hitting percentage to go with two service aces and four blocks. Lauryn Herrick added 11 kills and three aces, and Clark had three blocks.
Mitchell and Marchant topped the Griffins with 15 kills apiece. Emily Atkinson finished with a match-high 47 assists.
On defense, Kaylee Rector’s 27 digs helped the Warriors lead 101-83 in digs overall.
The match was played in front of a boisterous season-high crowd of 1,005. LCSC’s enthusiastic fans might have been a little on the intimidating side for some of the Warrior players early in the season, but the team seems to be thriving off of the energy now.
“They’re not afraid of the crowd anymore,” said Harris jokingly about her players. “The fans were great tonight.”