LEWISTON, Idaho – With a strong spring and summer of prep in the books, the Lewis-Clark State Volleyball team is eager to hit the court for the 2022 campaign. Shaun Pohlman will lead the Warrior women in his fifth season at the helm, aided by new assistant coach Dante Frattini.
“Our spring was amazing,” Pohlman said. “We could see our student-athletes grow and mature individually. During that period, our team naturally matured and developed a step closer to what we want it to look like.”
The LC State Warriors were picked to finish seventh in the Cascade Conference in the preseason poll, with defending champions Corban leading the way. LC State finished with an 11-11 record in CCC play last season and earned a spot in the postseason tournament as the sixth seed.
The Warriors return a slew of offensive power in their top three kills leaders, Cassidy Nelson, Grecia Ung Enriquez and Carli Berntson. Nelson led the team with 298 kills (2.92 per set) and 34 service aces in 2021, and Berntson was third with 203 to go with 66 blocks. Ung Enriquez put together a stellar freshman campaign that resulted in a first-team all-conference nod as well as recognition at the regional level. The Sonora, Mexico, native tallied 219 kills (2.70 per set), had 24 service aces and added 127 digs.
At the net, LC State returns both starting middle blockers in Jada Wyms and Channa Hart. Wyms led the Warriors with 78 blocks last season, including a team-best 17 solo blocks. Hart was a second-team all-conference selection with 66 blocks and an LC-leading .348 attack percentage.
“We certainly have firepower on our side. As with any team, our ability to use our offense will be determined by our pass first, then our ability to get them the ball through our setting crew,” Pohlman explained. “It’s truly a team effort. Everyone is working hard, and everyone has a desire to grow and help this team reach its next level. I’m looking forward to playing in some matches.”
Another strong asset to the Warriors in 2022 will be the addition of NCAA Division II transfer Lisi Langi. The right side joined LC State from New Mexico Highlands after starting her career at JUCO powerhouse New Mexico Military Institute.
“Lisi has already come in and made an impact,” Pohlman said. “She was voted a team captain by her peers and has been such a strong presence on the team in our practices. She has the potential to be a crowd favorite.”
Libero Kenzie Dean is back for her fourth season as a Warrior after collecting the 10th-most digs in a single season (490) in 2021. Her 4.38 digs per set tied for eighth-best in an LC season, aided by 27 matches with double-digit digs. The back row specialist also dealt 29 aces and 86 assists. Kendzee Cloward also returns to the back row for her final season of eligibility after she finished 2021 with 203 digs (2.21 per set), and LC will benefit from the addition of NCAA Division II Fresno Pacific transfer Madison Kammuller.
“It’s a dog fight right now for the libero spot,” Pohlman added. “Both of our returning seniors, Kendzee Cloward and Kenzie Dean, have shown they have what it takes, but to add to it, our DII sophomore transfer Maddie Kammuller is in the thick of it too. All three have such a strong presence on the court and it’s been fun to see not only the competitiveness in them, but to see the support they have for each of them when they do well. It’s a really cool healthy competitiveness.”
The Warriors have a hole to fill in the setter role with none returning, but newcomers Vanja Tomic and Esther Kailiponi will compete for time as the play maker.
“It’s always difficult when you don’t have returning setters, but I feel the ones we have are up for the challenge,” Pohlman said. “They will be a little raw in the beginning, but they are coachable and work very hard. They are already catching up with the pace and the system.”
Also in the mix for time at setter is sophomore Jennah Carpenter. The Lewiston native saw time as an outside hitter last season and went on to become the Cascade Conference Champion and an All-American in the high jump for LC State Track and Field.
“Jennah has really stepped up and continues to prove herself daily,” Pohlman explained. “She was an All-American track and field star as a freshman and she is using her athleticism in such an impressive way. It is truly fun to watch and the fact that she is a local gal makes it really cool.”
Another new face to the program this season is assistant coach Frattini.
“Dante is a coach that I talk to more than anyone else in the volleyball world,” Pohlman said. “He was my assistant at Northwest College for two seasons and we reached back-to-back NJCAA National Semifinal appearances. We can speak the same language pretty quickly and easily. We are lucky to have him.”
LC State will open the 2022 season the weekend of Aug. 18 in northern California with matches at William Jessup (Calif.), Pacific Union (Calif.) and Menlo (Calif.). The Warriors will take on Simpson (Calif.) and UC Merced in neutral-site matchups during the trip before opening Cascade Conference play on Aug. 26 at Walla Walla.
The Warriors will face a tough first full weekend of CCC action against Oregon Tech and Southern Oregon, two powerhouses in the sport. The trip is also the longest road trip for LC in conference play, so the Warriors will get it out of the way early.
The first home match of the season will feature another strong competitor in Eastern Oregon on Sept. 9. The Warriors will host in-state rival, College of Idaho, on Sept. 10 before the homestand wraps up the next weekend with Evergreen State and Northwest.
Senior Day will be held on Oct. 29 against Multnomah, and the regular season will close out Nov. 4 and 5 at Corban and Bushnell, respectively.