PUYALLUP — Lower Columbia's season came to an abrupt end on Friday night, falling in a sweep to North Idaho College in the NWAC Championships volleyball quarterfinals at Pierce College by scores of 25-20, 25-23 and 25-18.
"Overall, we didn't play our best. We just struggled to adjust to stop some of their offense today and adjust to it fast enough," LCC coach Carri Smith said. "Without being able to stop the speed of their offense, we weren’t able to get a lot of good, quality digs today to get our offense going."
Paige Chinchen led LCC with nine kills while adding nine digs, and Kate Johnson tallied eight kills. Alex Tinsley had a team high 25 assists and Arianna Vreeland recorded 16 digs.
"Not our best game, one thing I am proud of is that we did get a little better each set," Smith added. "They showed some fight."
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The Red Devils finished the season 27-6 overall, with a top eight spot in the NWAC and a co-championship of the West Region after going 11-1 in league games.
"I think we played good. I think we could have played better, but as a whole I think we played pretty good," LCC sophomore Jayden Foster said. "They really were strong in the offensive region and so it was hard to shut them down."
The game plan was to shut down East Region MVP Taylin Rowley, but the execution of stopping her didn't go as planned. Rowley led all players with 14 kills and added 12 digs.
Five sophomores played their final match as a Red Devil, including Foster, who played at Columbia River High School in Vancouver before coming to Longview for college ball.
"I feel like we had a really good season with being co-champs of the West," Foster said. "I couldn’t be more happy about that. It's set in, I'm definitely sad about it. It was so much fun. I couldn't have asked for a more fun season."
Vreeland, also a sophomore, came to Lower Columbia from more than 2,000 miles away in Anchorage, Alaska. Despite the loss she believes everyone played well individually against North Idaho and she's proud of how much the team grew over the course of the season.
"I loved last year's season but this one just felt completely different. All the girls on the team were so incorporated and so invested in our program," Vreeland said. "I really loved playing with all of these girls this year. I could trust every single one of them on the court. I had zero doubt in my mind we were going to make it to the last tournament, and I really thought we would pull through that game.
"Everyone has doubted us all season and everyone on the team does not care. We just play how we play because we want to play."
She said it has sunk in that Friday night was her final game in a Red Devil uniform but she enjoyed her time in Longview, including the weather, and hopes to keep playing volleyball somewhere next year.
"I'd love to play on. That's my dream, I love volleyball," Vreeland said. "I love touching a ball, always. I'm kind of late in the recruiting game, but if anyone sees this interview, pick me up, I'm there. I love the Northwest."
The Red Devils graduate five sophomores and return eight freshmen next season.
“I’m still very happy with the season,” Smith said. “These kids played hard all year, have had a lot of success and we’re happy to be in the Elite Eight and we knew every match was going to be extremely tough here on out, but I’m really proud of them.”
Lower Columbia landed several personal honors over the final week of the season in addition to their appearance in the Elite Eight.
Arianna Vreeland, Katy Cooper, Jayden Foster and Jazzy Golly were all named NWAC West Region All-Stars and Cari Smith was tabbed as Coach of the Year in the West Region.
Additionally, Alex Tinsley, Kate Johnson, Vreeland and Foster were named to the NWAC All-Region first team.