GVSU volleyball’s defense carries team to 3-0 victory over Tiffin

GVL / Spencer Scarber 
Grand Valley State University Universitys Womens Volleyball dominated Tiffin University during their second home game of the season on Saturday September 16, 2017.

GVL / Spencer Scarber Grand Valley State University University’s Womens Volleyball dominated Tiffin University during their second home game of the season on Saturday September 16, 2017.

Robbie Triano

Just one day after defeating Ashland 3-1 in the home opener Friday, Sept. 15, the Grand Valley State women’s volleyball team took to the court again versus GLIAC opponent Tiffin.

The Lakers didn’t skip a beat from Friday’s match, as GVSU’s defense was too much for Tiffin, collecting a 3-0 victory Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Fieldhouse.

From the front line of blocking to the back-row defense, the Lakers dominated in every statistical category with their overall skill and height at the net. Head coach Deanne Scanlon said the only way the Lakers would have faltered is if they had done it to themselves.

“(Before the game), we thought we should’ve beat Tiffin like that, but sometimes you don’t come out and execute if you think you’re not going to be challenged,” Scanlon said. “But I thought we did a great job, especially defensively. They play a different style of offense, and I think our kids adjusted to that.”

Tiffin came out of the first set with strong kill attempts, but the GVSU back-row defense of Katie Olson (four digs), Sydney Benchley (five digs) and Hannah Murdock (three digs) kept the ball off the floor to provide offense for the Lakers, who won the first set 25-18. By the end of the first set, GVSU had recorded 24 digs, compared to Tiffin’s 13. 

GVSU’s front line dominated in the second set, accumulating 18 kills in the Lakers’ 25-14 second victory of the match. Murdock led the set with six kills, while teammates Jayci Suseland and Staci Brower each added four that set. 

However, the third set was a different story than the first two, as Tiffin took advantage of GVSU’s setting and attacking errors to take an early 7-5 lead. But once again, the efforts of Murdock and Suseland carried the Lakers back to gather a 25-21 third-set victory to clinch a 3-0 match win.

Murdock finished the night with 15 kills, while teammates Suseland and Brower each collected 11. Having skilled and tall players, such as Murdock and Suseland, is something coach Scanlon prides her team on.

“We have a lot of weapons because I want big kids that can block, but also athletic enough to move,” Scanlon said. “(Murdock and Suseland) were off last night (against Ashland), but that’s the beauty of our team. We don’t have to have everyone on every night.”

Suseland believes the main reason for the Lakers’ front-line success was their ability to work together.

“We talk to each other when we’re out there to push over the net,” Suseland said. “We’re playing together more. After (starting) off slow (against Ashland), we now know how we play and what our game is.”

Although Murdock could have taken credit for the front line’s success, she knew there was another big reason for their result.

“It helps to have Katie (Olson) out there, who really pushes the offense and spreads it around,” Murdock said. “It also helps that we’re very tall for the GLIAC.”

Other notable performances from the Lakers came from Katie Olson (36 assists, 14 digs), Staci Brower (11 kills, three blocking assists) and Sydney Doby (six kills). 

Starting off conference play 2-0, the Lakers’ play at home this weekend completely contrasts their play earlier in the season. Scanlon believes the team’s new approach to each match has improved their game.

“We can be very hard on ourselves because we have kids that are very competitive, and they tend to focus more on the mistakes than the next ball,” Scanlon said. “Some of our kids struggled with that. Volleyball is a game of mistakes. 

You score points when the other team screws up. It’s about that next ball mentality of having a short-term memory.”

The Lakers (5-5, 2-0 GLIAC) will face Wayne State (6-4, 2-0 GLIAC) at home Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the Fieldhouse.