In the three seasons prior to Jennifer (Stinson) Greeny’s arrival as head coach at Lewis-Clark State College, the Warriors had won a combined 20 volleyball matches.
Things are definitely looking up.
The scrappy Warriors captured the NAIA Region I trophy Saturday afternoon at the Spokane Valley HUB, sweeping conference rival Westminster 30-24, 35-33, 30-14 to earn an automatic bid into the 20-team NAIA national tournament, Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 at Columbia (Mo.) College.
In Friday’s semifinal, the third-seeded Warriors knocked off top-seeded College of Idaho 22-30, 30-12, 23-30, 30-24, 15-5.
The championship match was the fourth meeting of the season between L-C State (25-6) and Westminster (23-10). The Warriors defeated the Griffins in all four, including last week for the Frontier Conference tournament title.
“A lot of credit to the girls for buying into the program and what we were teaching them,” Greeny said of the program’s turnaround.
“They just have done a great job – they worked really hard throughout the spring and summer, and they deserve it.”
Greeny, a Davenport High graduate, was a standout at Washington State from 1995-98 and went on to serve as an assistant for the Cougars from 2000-04 before taking over at Pullman High School and leading the Greyhounds to a state title in 2005.
Her roster includes some local flavor in lone senior Brittney Kubic (Lind-Ritzville), setter Mindy Meyer (Lakeland), and freshmen Katie Hinrichs (Pullman) and Kim Fong (Lewiston).
In a championship that included lengthy rallies, hard-nosed defense and solid net play, Lindsay Scott had 32 digs, Cinta Alessi finished with 10 kills and 24 digs, and Anile Clemente led all players with 15 kills.
Meyer finished with 19 assists and 10 digs, and Hinrichs collected 14 digs.
Kubic, a first-team All-Frontier Conference selection, had 13 kills and hit .591 in the semifinal, and finished with 10 kills and five blocks in the championship.
“I really like playing in Spokane. It feels like I am playing at home,” said Kubic, who graduated in 2004. “We have a new coaching staff and a new attitude (this year), and everyone was excited to make it better than last year.
“It’s such a great accomplishment. I didn’t even think we were going to make it this year, but we just worked hard and now we’re going.
Greeny expects stiff competition at the national tournament, but she thinks her Warriors are up for the fight.
“We’ve seen so much from our conference all year,” she said. “I think our conference has been a little underrated all year and we showed that here with three teams in the top four from (the Frontier Conference), so, hopefully, that will have prepared us for the next step.”