PUYALLUP WA – After 182 points played, Sydnie Johnson set Alicia Vandervoort-Walters who pushed the ball to the back of Skagit Valleys court. The return ball from the Cardinals danced on top of the net before dropping on their side. Let the festivities begin. Linn-Benton defeated Skagit Valley 3-1 (25-23, 23-25-25-22, 25-15) to win their first NWAC Championship in their 51 year history. It was also the first NWAC Women’s Championship for LBCC, and the first championship for the school since 1991 (Baseball).

The Roadrunners finished the season with an overall record of 32-2 and finished perfect in the NWAC South at 16-0. The last time the beaks lost was September 10th, which was followed by a 25 game, 73 day winning streak. During that time, they only dropped nine sets and didn’t drop one in the month of October. 

The first set was a back-and-forth clash with both teams taking the lead a handful of times before the Roadrunners got out to a 24-22 lead. Skaigt Valley held off for a point before a kill by Sydnie Johnson gave LB their first set win. The Roadrunners never led by more than two during the first set. 

During the second set, the same picture started taking place-a back and forth game that will come down to the final few points. But LB was able to distance themselves with a 19-15 lead, which was ultimately erased by a five point run by the Cardinal. A combined hitting effort from Eva Buford and Shalyn Gray brought the roadrunners back to a 22-20 lead, but ultimately the beaks fell 23-25 in set two. 

“I feel like there are points during each game where we start panicking and get frantic, but we are able to go back into the huddle and Jayme (Frazier) always knows what to do when and helps us a lot”

Said Taya Manibusan, the tournament MVP and true freshman at LBCC when asked about how their handle adversity and the ebbs and flows of the game.

Set three felt more comfortable with the Roadrunners finding their stride and mostly controlling the game, when asked about the team chemistry Head Coach Jayme Frazier spoke highly about her players on the sideline because of injury.

“They stepped up big with talking, cheering everybody on, and being super supportive, it’s a very tough role to take but they stepped up big time and had fun”

The Roadrunners felt a little pressure at the end of the third set with Skaigt Valley not letting go. But LB persevered and won 25-22 and headed to the fourth set with their heads held high.

In the fourth set, the Roadrunners jumped out quickly to an 11-5 lead and never looked back. The joy of a championship was delayed a point after a Roadrunner service error, but with an attack error by the Cardinal, the Roadrunners stormed the court in tears of joy. 

Frazier felt the team was a little nervous heading into the championship game

“We were a little bit nervous; they know what was riding on this game, but we tried to keep the same game plan as we did all year, pay attention to the details, play good relentless defense and get the ball back to the opponent so they can make errors”

The Roadrunners were certainly a force to be reckoned with on defense with Libero Jade Hayes having 21 of the Roadrunners’ 92 total digs. Setters Savannah Hutchins and Sydnie Johnson combined for 44 assists. 

Taya Manibusan was named the Tournament MVP, Setter Sydnie Johnson and Libero Jade Hayes were selected to first-team all-tournament. Alexis Chapman was named to the second team all-tournament. Shalyn Gray was named the NWAC South MVP earlier in the season. 

Shalyn Gray led the roadrunners in kills during the championship match with 17 and added 13 digs and one service ace. Taya Manibusan had 12 kills, 11 digs, and three service aces, also Alicia Vandervoort-Walters had seven kills and two digs. 

Linn-Bentons volleyball team celebrates their first ever NWAC Championship with head coach Jayme Frazier after they defeated Skagit Valley 3-1 on Sunday, Nov. 21 at Pierce College in Lakewood WA.
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