Finishing Strong: Volleyball finishes fourth at NWAC playoffs

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During the weekend of Nov. 16 to Nov. 19 the Linn-Benton volleyball team went up to Tacoma, Washington for the NWAC championship tournament to try and put the finishing touches on a solid season.  

They entered the tournament as second in the south division. They began with a hard fought 3-1 win over Lower Columbia, the team that defeated the Roadrunners last year in the championship game. North Idaho, who came in as the first team in the East Region and the number two overall team in the NWAC, was also beaten by LB 3-1.

After defeating those teams, they faced off against Clark College, a team they played twice earlier in the season. The Roadrunners fell 3-1, but since it was a double elimination tournament they were not out and could still reach the final through the loser’s bracket.

LBCC then faced off against Lower Columbia, who they defeated 2-1, followed by an aggressive Bellevue team for a shot at the final, but fell 2-1, ending their season but placing them in fourth place overall in the tournament.

“This season went well coming from different backgrounds really helped how we worked as a team this year,” said freshman Madelynn Norris.

“Compared to last year’s team they went undefeated and never dealt with adversity; where this year we overcame the adversity of having a couple of losses and that helped strengthen us so we can react when something doesn’t go right.”

Sophomore Captain Montanna Gubrud talked about how the season went through it’s ups and downs.

“This season went really well we really bonded and became a family.  We played our best volleyball at the end of the season,” said Gubrud.

“The Key game of the year I thought was up at the tournament when we played North Idaho and beat them in four sets, it was really fun, and the energy was high with everyone stepping up.”

Katelynn Allen, another sophomore captain, spoke about the improvement the team has seen in 2017, as well as how they to responded well to adversity.

“We definitely improved as time went on especially when we played our best at NWAC’s,” said Allen.  

“Losing to teams like Chemeketa and Clark during the season and Clark at NWAC’s from that we learned how to fight back from losses and come together with the same goal to win.”

Coach Jayme Frazier spoke about how she felt the team performed up to their expectations this season and also compared this year’s team to last year’s team.

“Coming back from a season like last year where we were a fairly dominant group we knew we had to replace certain players as of offensive ability and it was a young group.  We set our goals at first or second in our region which is tough to do with us playing tough teams all season, but I knew I had some returning sophomores at key positions like setter and libero which meant I needed my two outside hitters to step up,” said Frazier.

“It didn’t happen right at the start, but they stepped up when they needed to.  Our goal was first or second in the region and final four in the conference, which we got fourth,” said Frazier on the end of the season.

Frazier also spoke about the year in general, how the team improved throughout the season, and about her favorite game the team had played.

“Right at the start when we were not super powerful and dominant we had to play clean and we beat some teams that we wouldn’t later on if they were very offensive.  We played a lot of close matches Clark and Chemeketa, which we beat the first time, and getting those two wins became very evident and important where we ranked in playoffs and the region.  The key wins and losses this season were against the teams in our region.  We got sick through the season, which made us get out of condition,” said Frazier.

“The best game would have to be playing North Idaho College (NIC) we played really clean and aggressive throughout. Everybody improved – the thing about this year’s team was it took everybody to do what we did.”

Story by Josha Knight

Photos by Elliot Pond