BILLINGS, Mont. – Junior right-side hitter Brianne Brown had three kills during a critical stretch of the second set to help the Lewis-Clark State College women’s volleyball team move into sole possession of first place in the Frontier Conference with a 25-21, 25-22, 25-23 sweep of Rocky Mountain in a matchup of NAIA Top 25 teams on Thursday night.
LCSC, ranked No. 13, picked up its seventh straight win to improve to 13-3 overall and 7-1 in league play. Rocky Mountain, ranked No. 9, falls to 6-2 in league and 18-4 overall.
The win allowed LCSC to avenge a four-set loss to the Bears earlier this season. That loss ended a 38-match home win streak for the Warriors, who were without senior All-American middle blocker Nicole Graybeal in that match. Graybeal missed three weeks with an injured foot.
On Thursday night, Graybeal led a balanced Warrior attack with 10 kills and helped LCSC control the net with four solo blocks and one block assist. LCSC outblocked RMC 8-4.
LCSC senior outside hitters Kelli Tikker and Lauryn Herrick added nine and eight kills, respectively, and also had 11 digs each. Brown finished with seven kills and 13 digs. Kaylee Rector also had 13 digs and two service aces, while Nevena Dragovic had 34 assists and four of LCSC’s eight service aces.
In the opening game, LCSC erased a 3-0 deficit to grab the lead for good at 7-6. The Warriors led by as much as 20-13, but RMC rallied to cut the margin to 22-21. LCSC, however, scored the final three points, aided by a kill from Herrick.
In the key second game, LCSC led 4-0, 5-1 and 8-6, but RMC then ran off eight straight points for a 14-8 advantage. With RMC leading 18-13, the Warriors went on a 10-1 run behind three kills from Brown for a 23-19 lead. Brown added another kill as the Warriors claimed the set.
Herrick had three kills early in the third set to help the Warriors race out to a 9-4 advantage. RMC eventually rallied and tied the set at 20 and 21, but an ace by Rector and a kill by Brown gave LCSC the lead for good. Graybeal added a kill and LCSC was able to close out the match.
LCSC wound up with a .234 hitting percentage in the match, while RMC finished at .136
The Warriors resume play on Saturday in Helena, Mont., when they take on No. 24-ranked Carroll at 6 p.m. Carroll is 6-2 in league and 13-5 overall.
LCSC is looking to finish first in the conference regular-season standings for the fifth straight season and earn the top spot in the conference tournament, which will be held Nov. 11-12 in Helena.