This Week in Warrrior Athletics: Basketball, volleyball top list
VOLLEYBALL – vs. Rocky Mountain College, Friday, Oct. 26, 7 p.m., LCSC Activity Center; vs. Carroll, Sunday, Oct. 28, noon, LCSC Activity Center.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL – vs. University of British Columbia-Okanagan, Friday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m., Clarkston High School; vs. University of British Columbia-Okanagan, Saturday, Oct. 27, noon, Clarkston High School.
MEN’S BASKETBALL – vs. Malispina, Friday, Oct. 26, 8 p.m., Clarkston High School; vs. Malispina, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2 p.m., Clarkston High School.
Note: The Idaho State Class 1A High School Volleyball Tournament will be held at the Activity Center on Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 25-27.
The Warriors reached new heights Monday when the team was ranked third in the Region I standings behind the College of Idaho and Southern Oregon.
LCSC, 14-5 overall, moved up a spot from a week ago after defeating No. 11-ranked Westminster in four games last Friday in Salt Lake City. The victory gives the Warriors a sweep of the season series and moved the team into a three-way tie for the Frontier Conference lead with only two weeks remaining.
The Warriors wrap up the home portion of the schedule this week, taking on Rocky Mountain on Friday at 7 p.m. Even if the Idaho state Class 1A Volleyball Tournament, which is being held at the LCSC Activity Center earlier in the day, runs long, the two college teams will warm up in the Auxiliary Gym and the match should start on time.
The tournament also has forced LCSC to move its final home match of the season to Sunday at noon against Carroll College.
LCSC, Westminster and Montana Tech are all 8-2 in conference play, while Rocky Mountain is 8-3. All four teams still have a shot at the title, but only LCSC and Montana Tech control their destinies. The two meet on the final day of the regular season, Nov. 3, in Butte.
LCSC, which is 14-5 overall, will honors its two seniors, Brittney Kubik and Marie Balmer, during Sunday’s match against Carroll, 3-8 in league and 9-14 overall.
“This is a very important week for us,” LCSC coach Jen Greeny said. “We want to close out our home schedule on a high note, especially with it being our ‘Senior Weekend.’ ”
The Warriors are undefeated at home this season at 5-0 and already are guaranteed an overall winning record. A strong finish to the season as well as a good showing in the conference tournament should get the Warriors one of eight berths into the Region I Tournament, which will be held in Spokane.
LCSC features a balanced offensive attack, which welcomed back Cintia Alessi to the front row. Alessi has been hampered by an abdominal pull and has played most of the past month on the back row. Against Westminster, she moved to the front row after the Warriors lost the opening game and provided some spark to help LCSC win the next three games and take the match.
As a team, LCSC ranks 25th in the NAIA in kills per game at 14.54 and is No. 27 in assists per game at 13.13. Kubik ranks No. 28 in blocks per game at 1.4.
Junior Amile Clemente leads the team in kills with 174, while Julie Maciboba has 170 and Kubik 161. Lindsay Scott, with 101 kills, became the sixth Warrior this season with 100 or more kills.
Kubik leads the team in hitting with a .323 average and also has 93 blocks. Lisa Davis has 413 assists, and is second on the team in service aces with 30. Maciboba has a team-high 34 aces. Alessi has 318 digs, while Scott has 262.
Being ranked No. 3 in the Region I standings could lead to the Warriors breaking into the NAIA Top 25 when the poll is released on Wednesday. The Warriors were No. 28 last week.
In the preseason coaches’ poll, LCSC was picked to finish sixth in the eight-team Frontier Conference.
“Being ranked third in our region is great for our program,” Greeny says. “It means we are heading in the direction we need to go to bring this program back to the tradition of excellence we expect. Our players are working hard but know we are not finished and still have some very tough matches ahead.”
FRONTIER CONFERENCE STANDINGS – Lewis-Clark State 8-2, 14-5; Westminster 8-2, 16-6; Montana Tech 8-2, 16-6; Rocky Mountain 8-3, 13-12; Great Falls 5-6, 11-11; Carroll 3-8, 9-14; Montana State-Northern 2-9, 3-17; Montana-Western 0-10, 0-20.
The Warriors open the season on Friday at 6 p.m. at Clarkston High School when they play host to the University of British Columbia-Okanagan. The two teams meet again at noon on Saturday.
The two games are behind held at Clarkston because of the Idaho State Class 1A Volleyball Tournament is at the Activity Center.
UBC-Okanagan stands 4-3 on the season and is coming off the school’s first BCCAA championship from a year ago.
LCSC is coming off one of its best seasons in program history. The team went 31-3 a year ago, went undefeated in the Frontier Conference regular season and qualified for the NAIA national tournament. The team has won or shared the conference title for two straight years.
The Warriors, however, lost five seniors from that team, including post Ashley Baker, forward Aundrea Morrison, and guard Janeen Nelson. All three earned Frontier Conference honors last season. Baker, the program’s all-time leading rebounder, was a second-team NAIA All American.
LCSC, however, does have one of the best guard tandems in the NAIA returning in Katie Hart and Jade Fulbright, along with some other talented returners and newcomers.
“I think for every coach, this is really an exciting time of the year,” LCSC coach Brian Orr said. “I think it’s an exciting time for the players, too, because there are a lot of unknowns. We are really looking forward to beginning the season.”
Orr says the team will play to its strength this season, which will mean a more fast-paced game. Fulbright and Hart were among the league leaders in steals and the Warriors will use a lot of pressure defensively to create turnovers and jump start the offense, Orr said.
“We are a lot more athletic on the perimeter so we are going to press a lot more,” Orr says. “It’s going to be an up and down game, maybe a little more risky than what I like to do, but at the same time, it’s who we are in terms of personnel right now.
“This is going to be a fun team to watch because we do have a lot of offensive punch, especially in the open court.”
Also back for LCSC this season are senior posts Mindy Troutt and Vanessa West, junior guard Kim Preston, and sophomore point guard Madison Mendezona. All were important contributors last season. Orr says he likes West’s toughness in the middle and that Troutt’s talents were somewhat hidden last year because she played behind Baker. Orr added that Preston is perhaps the team’s best outside shooter and Mendezona showed extreme poise as a freshman last year and is battling for a starting spot as well.
The five newcomers are led by junior guard Breianna Gaines, guard/forward Sadie Short, and post Lacie Titmus, all junior college transfers. The two freshmen are Kenna Reiter, a guard, Nichole Miller, a post.
“I think it comes down to your team has to stay tight all season long,” Orr says about the keys to this year. “But to be successful over the long run, you have to defend, and you have to rebound. It doesn’t make any difference what you do offensively because you will have good nights and bad nights, but the one constant you have to have, especially on the road, is that you have to be able to stop people.”
Like the women, the Warrior men are coming off a big year, but lost some key players and have some unknowns entering the season.
In coach Tim Walker’s second season, the Warriors went 26-7, the second-most wins in a season, and won both the regular season and conference tournament titles. LCSC also advanced to the NAIA national tournament, but lost by four points in its opener.
The men, however, return their two key performers from a year ago. Mike Gordy, a 6-5 senior post, was the co-MVP of the conference last season and earned second team NAIA All America honors. Napoleon Gordon, a 6-0 sophomore point guard, was the Freshman of the Year in the conference.
LCSC, however, graduated its other three starters and its sixth man, and will rely on some returnees, a strong recruiting class, and some players who missed at least parts of last season with injuries.
The Warriors did sign three players from Sheridan Junior College in Wyoming, including 6-1 guard Brian Duckworth, who was the Region IX Defensive Player of the Year, and 6-3 guard Dorian Watson, the team’s leading scorer and a first team all-Region IX member.
“I really like the structure of this team,” Walker said. “We have a lot of depth. And with Gordy back in the middle and Gordon at the point, that is a pretty good place to start. Those two are the toughest to recruit, an inside man and a good point.”
Walker said the focus will be on defense again. The Warriors were second in the nation in points allowed last season and has set the bar high again this year.
On offense, he feels this is a good shooting team, especially from the perimeter.
“We have a lot of good guard and they have a good feel for the game, but we need to be a team that is inside-out,” Walker says. “We have Mike Gordy in the middle, an All American last year who led us in scoring. We’ve got to have him touch the ball.”
Also returning this year are guards Rob Comer, Caleb Orr, and Karl Stedman, along with forward Jon Daly. Comer started nine games last year and has the potential to be a deadly outside shooter. Stedman and Daly appear healthy after being bothered by injuries.
Another player returning after a two-year hiatus is Justin Fraser of Clarkston. He started part-time that year, but knee injuries have kept him out.
Mikel Watson, a transfer from Utah State, also is expected to make an impact.
Two freshmen, Max Papendieck, who redshirted last season, and Andrew Packwood of Lewiston High School, round out the team. Packwood has played well in the preseason, but needs to improve on the defensive end.
The Warriors were picked as the preseason favorite to win the league title in the coaches’ poll.
“So far, we’ve had some really good practices and even from my standpoint, they have been fun to watch,” Walker says. “We transition really well, we are quick on the defensive end, and we have a lot of guys who can score. The biggest challenge for us will be putting all those pieces together in a unit that can play together and function together.”