Volleyball, cross country teams kick off seasons
This weekend in Warrior Athletics
VOLLEYBALL – At Concordia Tournament, Portland, Friday-Saturday. Friday, Aug. 31 – vs. Concordia-Portland, 11 a.m.; vs. Holy Names, 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 – vs. Concordia-Nebraska, 9 a.m.; vs. Southern Oregon, 3:30 p.m.
CROSS COUTRY – At Whitman Invitational, Walla Walla, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 1, 10:45 a.m.
VOLLEYBALL SEASON PREVIEW
The Jennifer Greeny era of LCSC volleyball kicks off this weekend when the first-year coach makes her debut in the six-team Concordia University Tournament at Portland on Friday and Saturday.
The tournament should provide a strong challenge for the Warriors because it includes Southern Oregon, which upset No. 8-ranked Azusa Pacific in a tournament last week.
The Warriors played an exhibition match against an alumni team on Saturday and won all four games. The team features a mix of returning players and some key newcomers, including two junior college All-Americans.
“My personal goal for this season is to make the team successful,” says Greeny, “whether that success is defined in more wins than last year, enjoying the game more, bringing more fans in, or doing better academically. I think all of these things help in the development of the program.”
The Warriors suffered only the program’s third losing record since 1993 last year and despite losing only three players who saw regular action last year, LCSC is picked to finish sixth this season in the eight-team Frontier Conference.
Greeny says that is to be expected based on last year’s record, a new coach, and a new system. However, she says both her and the player are excited for this season and that the Warriors are working hard to get better.
Greeny was named coach in late March after the team had finished its spring workouts. The challenge this fall has been installing her system, which helped Pullman High place four consecutive years at the Washington State Class 2A Tournament, including the program’s first state championship.
“One challenge for the girls is just adjusting to my coaching, what I want, and the speed of the game that I want to improve,” Greeny says. “I want to run a faster-paced offense.”
Greeny says she plans to use a 6-2 offense, which uses two setters. The Warriors return junior Mindy Meyer and sophomore Lisa Davis, who split time as starters a year ago. Freshman Kim Fong of Lewiston also will set this season and Greeny says that two of the three will likely be on the court together.
The left-side hitting position is perhaps the deepest on the team with returners Lindsay Scott, a junior, and Brittany Hall, a sophomore, joining senior Marie Balmer and newcomers Anile Clemente and Cintia Alessi, both junior college All-Americans. Balmer hasn’t played since the 2004 season and Alessi earned Junior College All-America honors at North Idaho College last season.
Greeny says Scott has improved tremendously and that Hall has been working on improving her footwork and consistency. Balmer was one of the top Warrior players in 2004 and despite some injury problems, Greeny feels she will make an impact this year, as will Alessi and Clemente, who both have played internationally.
Junior Julie Maciboba and senior Brittney Kubik are the middle blockers. Maciboba was an honorable mention all-conference selection last year, while Kubik ranked fourth on the team in kills. Greeny says both are working on improving their blocking and being more consistent.
On the right side, sophomore Dana Christiansen joins junior Austyn Lewis. Christiansen is a left-handed hitter who “hits a heavy ball,” according to Greeny, while Lewis hit the weight room hard in the summer and is the team’s most improved player this fall, Greeny says.
Junior college transfer Whitney Bond and freshman Katie Hinrichs of Pullman are the team’s defensive specialists. Greeny says Bond is a hard worker and that Hinrichs is adjusting to the speed and power of the college game.
Greeny says a big challenge for the team this season is having just seven home matches, all in conference play.
Men’s cross country
The Lewis-Clark State College men’s cross country team has plenty of reasons to feel good heading into the season. The Warriors return four of their top five finishers from the NAIA national meet last year when the team placed 21st overall. Along with a strong nucleus returning, the Warriors added an outstanding freshman class, which should make them one of the top NAIA teams in the West.
The NAIA raters agreed and placed the Warriors at No. 9 in the NAIA preseason poll, which is the highest preseason ranking in the history of the program, and the second-highest rating ever.
“Our men will definitely have a target on their backs this season,” says LCSC coach Mike Collins, who is entering his 11th year at the helm. “Based on the rating, we are the favorite in the region. Those are pretty high compliments by the raters to have put us in that position, and now we will have to back it up.
“I am always a little skeptical of the preseason ratings because nobody has raced yet and all of the processes that go into it are done on paper. The season could easily unfold very differently than what the raters would predict with the preseason polls. We are one of six teams from Region I that received votes and the defending champion is not there and I don’t think you can count them out either.”
Calin Hantau, a senior from Romania, is the Warriors’ top returner and finished 10th at the national meet. He will be joined by fellow seniors Aaron Galbraith, who also had a strong junior season, and Keith Nebeker, who redshirted last season after suffering an injury.
The Warriors have one junior, and the remaining eight runners are sophomores and freshmen. Phil Vincent and Eric Tuwei both competed at the national meet last year as freshmen.
“I know we should be a good team this year and have the talent level on the team to be a top 10 team and our workouts to this point have been the best I have ever seen, but we have to do it in the races,” Collins says. We are very excited to see what happens when the Warrior singlets get pulled on and the shoes are laced up.”
Women’s cross countryat
Usually when a cross country team loses four seniors, including three who ran at the national meet a year ago, the new season is considered a rebuilding year.
That thought, however, doesn’t apply to the Warrior women’s cross country program, at least in the eyes of opposing NAIA coaches.
Despite finishing No. 21 at the national meet last year and losing half of its varsity roster, the Warriors were ranked No. 12 in the NAIA preseason poll by the NAIA raters, composed of coaches throughout the country.
“I am a little surprised by our rating,” says LCSC coach Mike Collins, who is entering his 11th year as head coach in the program. “It’s a pretty generous rating if you asked me. We finished 21st last year (at nationals), but return a large number of those runners along with some new gals that will definitely play a role, but I did not figure to get much higher than maybe 15 or 16 if we were lucky.
“I think this says a lot for the history of our program and the confidence that the other raters have in the potential of our team to perform at a level that will take them back to nationals for the seventh consecutive time.”
The Warriors do have talent. Senior Emily Perkins was the Warriors’ top finisher at the national meet last year, and is joined by sophomores Kyli Astle, Katja Palm Loevslett, and Linday Szybura, all competitors at the national meet last season as freshmen. LCSC’s roster has three seniors, one junior, three sophomores and five freshmen this season.