Aiken propels GVSU past Ashland

GVL / Archive  
Kaleigh Lound

GVL / Archive Kaleigh Lound

Jay Bushen

Junior captain Abby Aiken found a way to shine after being told to put the team on her back.

Aiken answered the call, recording 21 kills as the No. 21 Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team overcame Ashland University in a crucial four-set victory on Saturday night at Kate’s Gymnasium in Ashland, Ohio.

“I told her during a timeout that it was on her,” GVSU head coach Deanne Scanlon said. “I challenged her in front of her teammates, and she just responded and did an awesome job. It was good to see her have that breakthrough type of match.”

The team dropped the first set against the Eagles but eventually took control as the Onsted, Mich., native helped swing the momentum and allowed the Lakers to close out the final three frames.

Aiken added 17 digs to complete the double-double.

“She called me out in front of everyone,” Aiken said. “It was intimidating, but it wasn’t just me. My teammates were there.”

Aiken said she had been struggling as of late, despite having the fifth-highest kill total in the GLIAC (209) so far this season.

The All-GLIAC second teamer said her team understands the significance of the victory.

“We proved ourselves tonight,” she said. “It was a big step in the right direction.”

GVSU (14-3, 8-1 GLIAC) moves back into first place after bumping Ashland out of the top spot in the conference standings. Both teams had entered the match as part of a four-way tie atop the GLIAC along with No. 20 Ferris State University and Northern Michigan University.

All three of the remaining 8-1 teams compete in the North Division, and the Lakers could certainly make the case that they are one of the favorites moving forward. The team has won 12 of its last 13 matches.

Junior Kaitlyn Wolters has been a driving force in the impressive streak and tallied 39 assists in the victory to go with 15 digs and seven kills.

“We’re pretty excited, we wanted to be back on top,” Wolters said. “We want to prove to everybody that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

The team definitely appears to be a force, especially to teams from the state of Ohio.

GVSU began the 2-0 weekend by cruising past Lake Erie College in straight sets (25-10, 25-20, 25-16) on Friday night, which was its fifth consecutive 3-0 victory over an Ohio squad.

The Lakers were dominant in the victory, recording 37 kills for a combined .329 hitting percentage while holding the Storm to a .078 mark. Freshman right side hitter Josie Werner led the way with eight kills and no errors to record a .533 hitting percentage. She also led both teams with six blocks.

The “sweep streak” came to an end in the first set against Ashland, but GVSU has still managed to take 18 of 19 sets against such teams this season en route to a perfect 6-0 record.

“It just makes the bus ride home that much sweeter,” Scanlon said.

It will likely be a close race down the stretch in the GLIAC this season, but if Aiken and her teammates are able to elevate their game to an even higher level, the team has a solid chance to finish the 2013 campaign in first place.

GVSU returns to Allendale for a pair of home matches against Wayne State University on Friday at 7 p.m. and the University of Findlay on Saturday at 4 p.m.