Red Devils capture NWAC Volleyball title -- their first since '91
Rick McCorkle [email protected] | The Daily News
TACOMA -- Nina Bailey danced.
Whether it was in timeout huddles, pre-match warmups or after hammering a kill, the Lower Columbia College freshman middle hitter continually stayed loose. It also helped to relax her volleyball teammates during Sunday’s Northwest Athletic Conference Volleyball Championship match against Linn-Benton.
The Red Devils hip-hopped their way to a 25-22, 25-20 victory over the Roadrunners to capture the program's second conference title in volleyball. The last came in 1991 against Mt. Hood, and the Red Devils are now 2-0 all-time in championship matches.
LCC (31-8) was the tournament’s lone undefeated team entering Sunday, topping Spokane (3-2), Umpqua (3-0), Walla Walla (3-2) and Chemeketa (3-0) to reach the final. But the Red Devils lost the first championship, best-of-five match to Linn-Benton, 28-26, 17-25, 14-25, 18-25 to force a winner-take-all, best-of-three match.
Bailey, named the tournament’s Most Inspirational Player, took it upon herself to pump everyone up.
“I want to keep the team loose and not too hectic, because when we’re too serious we tend to break down,” she said. “When we are having fun, we’re a winning team.”
And winning, they did, but it didn't come without an early scare. In the first set of the best-of-three championship, the Red Devils got a scare when Tournament MVP Kallie Schmit collapsed to the floor after hammering 14 kills on 53 attempts in the best-of-five first championship match. After she lay on the floor for several minutes, she was helped up and resumed playing, but had a noticeable limp. Whenever she was substituted out, Schmit worked with a trainer on what appeared to be a pulled groin muscle.
“We’ve been battling injuries all season, and Kallie’s injury is just more fuel on the fire,” Smith said. “Every team deals with it, and it’s another roadblock to get through. She’s a gamer and played through it as it’s mind over matter and mind over body.”
The Devils trailed 20-16 in the first set when they started to solve the problem of Linn-Benton’s solid frontline block. Two block kills from Bailey, and a pair of kills by Rachel Erickson were part of a 5-0 run which pushed LCC ahead 21-20. A Devils’ hitting error put them back into a tie at 21, but kills from Erickson, Schmit, Kylie Reinholdt and Bailey sealed the first set. Schmit and Bailey each finished with seven kills.
“Their block was tough to get around,” Smith said. “We weren’t mixing up our hitters well and getting all of our hitters involved. Against a block like theirs, every hitter has to be involved or they’ll know where we’re going with the ball.”
MVP - Kallie Schmit, Lower Columbia
Most Inspirational - Nina Bailey, Lower Columbia
Rachel Erickson, Lower Columbia
Haylee Savage, Lower Columbia
Alyvia Sams, Linn-Benton
Chase Bohman, Linn-Benton
Madison Ross, Chemeketa
Tori Wegdahl, Walla Walla
Khloe Clark, LCC
Montanna Gubrud, Linn-Benton
Tory Bennett, Chemeketa
Morgan Ness, Walla Walla
Melisa Ljuca, Clark
Miah Perez, Blue Mountain
Nina Bailey, Most Inspirational and Kallie Schmit MVP