Warriors celebrate Senior Day by drubbing Montana Tech
LEWISTON, Idaho – The way things went Saturday at the Activity Center, don’t be surprised if the Lewis-Clark State College women’s volleyball program has more than one Senior Day in future years.
With senior outside hitters Kelli Tikker and Lauryn Herrick pounding away and seemingly dominating the match at will, the Warriors celebrated Senior Day with a 25-14, 25-6, 25-17 triumph over Montana Tech in the final regular season home match for the Warriors.
Tikker and Herrick recorded 10 kills apiece and posted several impressive numbers to help the Warriors to their 10th straight win. LCSC, ranked No. 9 in the NAIA, has won seven of the 10 in sweeps during the streak and now has 10 sweeps on the season. LCSC is 16-3 overall and in first place in the league standings at 10-1, while Montana Tech is at the bottom at 7-17 and 0-11.
The Warriors were never threatened on Saturday as the Orediggers only led twice – 2-1 in the opening set and 1-0 in the third set. The impressive number came in the second set, which was tied at 2-2 before LCSC scored 23 of the next 27 points.
“On Senior Night, you always want to win for the seniors,” LCSC coach LaToya Harris said. “Everyone came together to make sure that happened.”
The Warriors honored their three seniors prior to the match, but it started on a somber note. All-American senior middle blocker Nicole Graybeal missed the match to attend a funeral of a friend in Spokane who was killed in an automobile accident last week. Tikker and Herrick both said Graybeal’s absence provided extra incentive because they wanted to win the match for their friend and teammate.
“It was hard and a different not to have her out there when the seniors were introduced but we told her that we understood and not to worry because we would take care of things for her,” Herrick said.
And boy did they. The two seniors, both first-team all-Frontier Conference picks last season, put on a show. Herrick finished with an incredible .692 hitting percentage, five service aces, eight digs and 1.5 blocks. The five aces were part of a season-high 13 in the match for LCSC and also moved Herrick into fourth place on the program’s all-time service ace list with 174. She’s just 21 away from tying the all-time record and six away from moving into third place.
“We have been practicing on connecting and we hit well today,” Herrick said. “I think our defense and serving also were good today.”
Tikker, who seemed to put a little extra on some of her kills Saturday, hit. 429, and added three aces, five digs and a solo block.
“I felt good in warm-ups and this was a lot of fun today,” Tikker said. “Obviously we were playing for the seniors, but really we play for each other. That’s the one thing that has really changed for us. We’re united and we play for each other.”
Junior Brianne Brown also had a solid match with nine kills, a .412 hitting percentage, six digs, three block assists, and an ace.
Overall, LCSC hit .329 for the match, compared to .000 for Tech. LCSC also had a 13-0 advantage in service aces and a 7-5 edge in blocks. LCSC finished with 38 kills, compared to 16 for Tech.
Setter Nevena Dragovic had 30 assists for LCSC, while Kaylee Rector had three service aces and five digs. Freshman Chelsea Strong finished with one solo block and two block assists.
Tikker said the match was a little surreal because the Warriors still have three regular-season matches on the road, the conference tournament in Helena and then nationals. There’s also a possibility that if LCSC finishes No. 12 or worse in the final NAIA poll, it could play a first-round national tournament match at home.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here and sad to see it end, but at the same time I’m excited to see where this season is going to take us,” Tikker said. “There’s a lot of volleyball left.”
Her coach agreed.
“It was a great last home match but our seniors aren’t done playing yet,” Harris said. “We’re planning on playing into December.”
The Warriors will be on the road next week when they face the University of Great Falls on Friday at 6 p.m., and then head to Havre, Mont., to meet Montana State-Northern on Saturday at 1 p.m. LCSC ends the regular season on Nov. 3 against Westminster in Salt Lake.