DILLON, Mont. – After a season full of close matches and unpredictability, the Lewis-Clark State College volleyball team left nothing up to chance in its trip to the University of Montana Western on Friday night. The Warriors swept the Bulldogs in three quick sets to claim their sixth consecutive Frontier Conference regular season championship.
“I’m excited and just happy,” said LCSC head coach LaToya Harris. “This group has worked extremely hard and they had tough shoes to fill with the seniors who graduated. I knew we had the talent to compete for another title this year, but we just needed to keep controlling it and being consistent.”
The Warriors were the epitome of consistent on Friday night as they rolled to a 25-17, 25-18, 25-21 victory. The win lifts LCSC to 11-3 in league play (15-9 overall) with one match remaining on the regular season slate.
The team’s final contest will be against second-place Carroll College, which stands at 10-5 in league play. With a win the Saints will tie the Warriors in total victories, but LCSC will still claim the title because of its higher winning percentage. The two teams will square off on Saturday in Helena, Mont. at 1 p.m., Pacific.
Harris was particularly pleased with the team’s passing against Western. Kaylee Rector and Ali Hubert had 16 and 11 digs, respectively, and played a major role in giving setter Nevena Dragovic quality passes to work with. Dragovic ended up with 21 assists as the team outhit Western .287 to .087.
Niurka Toribio, who added nine digs, led the team with 14 kills, while Treneisha Doyle had nine along with a team-high .389 hitting percentage.
“Doyle had a kill that completely quieted the entire gym,” said Harris. “She’s a momentum killer for the opposing team and a fire starter for us.”
LCSC also had a strong night at the net, leading 8-3 in blocks. Keisha Luebbert-Kennedy had four and Toribio had three.
The Bulldogs were led by eight kills apiece from Bailey Branson and Brea Mitchell. Paige Latimer led the team with 27 assists, and Shelby Mack had a team-high 12 digs.
Though the regular season title and top seed at the conference tournament are in the bag, Harris says her players are completely focused on Saturday’s match and on avenging a five-set loss to Carroll at home earlier this year.
“They’re waiting for payback tomorrow. It’s going to be Carroll’s Senior Night and it’s going to be tough, but we’re focused and ready for payback.”