The winning culture established by volleyball coach Jayme Frazier during her tenure at Linn-Benton Community College was evident again on Saturday in a victory over Clackamas CC at the LBCC Activities Center.
Less than 24 hours removed from an emotional, come-from-behind five-set triumph over Northwest Athletic Conference contender Chemeketa in Salem, the Roadrunners methodically dispatched Clackamas in four sets. The 25-8, 30-32, 25-15, 25-13 victory stretched their winning streak to five matches and enabled them to sweep the opening weekend of conference action.
Frazier expected nothing less from her team, which improved to 17-4 overall and 2-0 in the NWAC South Division before an appreciative crowd that included many members of the Roadrunners’ baseball team, on hand to support their athletic department compatriots.
“We did talk about a possible letdown,” Frazier said. “Saturdays are tough sometimes after a big Friday night match. We were aware that can happen, so we addressed it.
“With a lot of freshmen, sometimes it’s just about educating them about the emotional ups and downs” of the longer, tougher college season.
Her message was received 5-by-5, as LBCC jumped out to a 16-1 lead in winning the first set. It rallied from a 23-16 deficit and staved off six set points before dropping the marathon second set, then regrouped during the 10-minute intermission to easily capture the final two sets and the match.
Frazier has almost an entirely new team this fall, as eight of the 12 players are freshmen. The Roadrunners graduated NWAC Player of the Year Chase Bohman and NWAC all-stars Alyvia Sam and Mindy Wilmes from a 2016 unit that won 41 consecutive matches at one point before losing to Lower Columbia in the NWAC championship match.
Bohman now plays at Oregon Tech; Wilmes is Frazier’s volunteer assistant while completing her degree work at Oregon State.
But while the makeup of the team has changed from old to young, Frazier’s expectations and coaching style have remained consistent.
“I try to always teach the same basic fundamentals,” she said. “Some teams pick up parts of it better than others. This year’s team may pick up something quicker than last year’s, and we might have to go back to the fundamentals a little more than we did last year,” but the program’s cornerstones haven’t changed.
“I really try to tell them, ‘Play our side of the net,’ and not who we are playing,” Frazier said. “We know what strengths are coming at us, but we want to play our game,” and dictate the match’s tempo and character.
“We have different strengths this year. Our depth is strong, we have more setters, which is always good in case we have an injury. They are a young group, with a lot of heart and resilience … we have strengths in different places this year.”
LBCC is 10-1 in September, with seven 3-0 wins. Chemeketa is the only opponent to win more than one set in a match during that span.
“All in a sudden this last week, Sara Fanger has really improved her ball control,” Frazier said of her sophomore libero. “So has (freshman libero) Kya Knuth.
“They have really stepped up and improved from two weeks ago. That has cleared up some things for us.”
Fanger had 22 digs, 11 assists and seven aces against Chemeketa, and 20 digs against Clackamas. Sophomore setter Montanna Gubrud, a first-team NWAC all-star in 2016, had 43 assists against Clackamas.
Gubrud and fellow sophomores Fanger, Kylene Briggs and Katelyn Allen realized they’d have more leadership responsibilities in 2017 during spring practice and have made that a point of emphasis.
“We all are stepping up big-time,” said Gubrud, the NWAC South Region’s setter of the week for Sept. 6-12 and the league’s No. 8 setter with a 6.62 assist-per-set average. “It’s definitely different this year because we’re so young.
“But we have a lot of potential and we are definitely going to get there. I believe in the freshmen. We have good all-around ball control, and a lot of depth."
Two big matches await LBCC this week. The Roadrunners, Mt. Hood and Clark are tied for the South Region lead with 2-0 records; they play at Mt. Hood on Wednesday and host Clark at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Activities Center.
“We’re 21 matches in and we have the most important part of the season ahead of us,” Frazier said. “I’m looking at, ‘What are the areas I can still pull more from out of this team?’
“I see a whole bunch … transition, getting players’ feet (moving), and some more skill. As they learn to work as a team we’ll continue to grow.”