GVSU bounce back after tough loss Friday, match with Bulldogs looms

Zach Sepanik

Losing is something the Grand Valley State University volleyball team is not accustomed to. History says so, and the season these Lakers have put together is also reminiscent of such a conclusion.

Therefore, riding a nine-match win streak heading into Friday night’s contest against Northern Michigan University, the five-set loss to the Wildcats came as a bit of a shock.
The response by GVSU head coach Deanne Scanlon when asked if GVSU expected to win was as simple as it gets — yes.

“I think we didn’t go into the match with the kind of urgency that we needed to,” Scanlon said. “We could just never really get anything going.”

It was the first time the Lakers (19-5, 9-4 GLIAC) tasted defeat since Sept. 25.

Junior right side hitter Megan Schroeder collected a career-high 20 kills and finished with a .317 hitting percentage, while sophomore outside hitter Abby Aiken chipped in 16 kills, hitting at a .308 mark. Their performances were impressive as the team only hit .182, collectively.

“It just was a very long, drawn out game so there was going to be a lot of swings taken,” Schroeder said. “I just wanted to be able to step-up responsibly and help the team out in that way.”

With the match tied at one set apiece, the Lakers faced an 11-8 deficit in the third frame. GVSU then fed off the strong serving of senior middle blocker Eno Umoh, including two aces, to rattle off eight consecutive points. They followed it up shortly after with a 5-0 run to take a 21-12 lead, putting the set out of reach.

Only needing to win one more set, things looked to be all but wrapped up for the Lakers. However, a poor hitting percentage of .078 over the final two sets, highlighted by 14 errors, opened the door for the Wildcats, who took full advantage to steal the match.

“We should have taken control of the game at times when we were just backing away and letting them set the pace,” Schroeder said. “We learned that we need to really focus in and work that much harder for the rest of the season.”

GVSU bounced back Saturday, sweeping Michigan Technological University (9-17, 4-9 GLIAC) by scores of 25-22, 25-15 and 25-15.

Freshman outside hitter Betsy Ronda paced the Lakers with 14 kills and 8 digs, hitting at a .375 mark. Umoh also had a solid outing, recording 10 kills, five block assists and one solo block.

After the weekend, Umoh now sits second on the all-time career block assists list with 386. She only trails Laker great Rebeccah Rapin (437) and has passed three former All-Americans in her rise to No. 2.

“It’s very exciting to move up in career ranks,” Umoh said. “At the same time, I don’t go into games thinking I am going to get all these blocks. I focus on putting the team first and everything else is just bonus.”

The Lakers now look to their next opponent — Ferris State University — as they prepare to head to Big Rapids, Mich. on Tuesday. Prior to Northern Michigan, the Bulldogs were the last team to beat GVSU.

Ferris State ranks No. 2 in the GLIAC, while GVSU is tied for fourth. It is arguably the biggest game on the schedule for the Lakers thus far.

“It is a huge game and I think if we win against a big team like this, it is going to give us momentum,” Umoh said. “It is crucial for us.”

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