LCSC tames Coyotes and No. 10 Lions
CALDWELL, Idaho – The Lewis-Clark State College volleyball team picked up a pair of quality wins at the College of Idaho Classic on Saturday inside the J.A. Albertson Activities Center. The No. 8-ranked Warriors first defeated tournament host College of Idaho 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 26-24, 25-23), and then mustered a come-from-behind victory against No. 10 Vanguard (Calif.) in five sets (25-21, 22-25, 12-25, 25-21, 17-15).
“I’m very proud of the entire team,” said LCSC head coach LaToya Harris. “One thing I can say is that we have people who can step up and help the team when we need it.”
The Warriors, now 3-1 overall, didn’t play their smoothest volleyball in their opening match against the Coyotes, nevertheless, they found a way to score the points they needed late in the sets. The match featured 47 ties and 18 lead changes.
Despite 32 attack errors and being outhit .156 to .099, the Warriors were dynamite down the stretch as they broke away from a 20-20 tie in the first set, a 24-24 tie in the third, and a 21-20 deficit in the fourth.
“We have a team that plays well under pressure, and that’s a sign that we can push even more throughout the match. We need to work on coming out stronger.”
Three Warriors finished with double-figures in kills. Keisha Luebbert-Kennedy (pictured above) had 12 and a match-high .500 hitting percentage, Willow Markowitz also had 12, and Brianne Brown had 10. Jessica Peacock led the Coyotes with 13 kills and hit .375.
College of Idaho had a slim 9-8 lead in blocks, but LCSC enjoyed an 8-3 advantage in service aces. C of I’s Liz Myers led with six blocks, while Luebbert-Kennedy had five and LCSC setter Nevena Dragovic had four to go with a match-high 37 assists. In service aces, Markowitz led the way with four.
In the battle between two of the NAIA’s top 10 teams, LCSC hit a better percentage (.145) than it did against the Coyotes but was confronted with a Vanguard squad that didn’t seem to have many weaknesses.
“It’s early in the season and we’re all getting the kinks out, but Vanguard is a very strong team. We had to make some adjustments and then we started blocking the ball better.”
Vanguard finished with a 12-9 lead in blocks, an 8-7 edge in aces, and had a little bit higher of a hitting percentage (.162). A lot of the numbers were skewed though by blowout third set during which the Warriors won just one point during the final 14 volleys.
Outside of the third set, the Warriors made Vanguard fight for every point, especially in the fifth set. The final set began with LCSC taking a 10-7 lead, however, the Lions responded and tied it at 13. The teams then exchanged points and with a tip shot by Jessica Neves, just over the reach of LCSC’s blockers, Vanguard took a 15-14 advantage.
The Warriors answered though with two kills by Chelsea Strong. The first was a power shot tooled off a blocker and out of bounds and the second was a tip shot that landed just in bounds near the net to end a long volley. The match-winning point came via a clean kill by Ali Hubert and was setup by a strong serve by Markowitz.
“We have girls who are very versatile and that helped us get the wins today,” said Harris. “For example, Ali (who usually plays setter) stepped up and filled in as an outside hitter when the team really needed it. I’m very proud.”
Brown led the Warriors with 11 kills, while Luebbert-Kennedy and Ali Hubert added 10 apiece. Neves topped Vanguard with 19, and Rachel Barker added 14.
Markowitz and Vanguard’s Morgan Burt both had three aces to lead the match, while Vanguard’s Candace Cedarstrom led with seven blocks. Dragovic had a very strong match as she finished with 41 assists, eight kills thanks to a .467 hitting percentage, and four blocks.
LCSC will return to action next Thursday and Friday at the Biola Holiday Inn Summer Slam in La Mirada, Calif. The team will also travel to Azusa, Calif., and play a scrimmage against NCAA D-II Azusa Pacific on Tuesday.
“We’re eager to go to California and see what we can do.”