GVSU sweeps rival Bulldogs in Big Rapids

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Betsy Ronda sets up for the block earlier this season.

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GVL / Archive Betsy Ronda sets up for the block earlier this season.

Zach Sepanik

It was arguably the biggest game of the season to date for the Grand Valley State University volleyball team when they traveled to No. 25 Ferris State University on Tuesday night. After falling at home to the Bulldogs in a tough five-set match on Sept. 25, GVSU seeked payback and got it in straight sets, 25-21, 27-25, 25-22.

“We were obviously out for revenge,” said freshman outside hitter Betsy Ronda, who contributed 14 kills and a match-high 21 digs. “I think we came out a lot more prepared. We knew what was on the line after a rough last weekend and just really wanted to go out there and prove ourselves.”

The Laker defense wrote the script for the commanding sweep over their rival, recording a season-high 93 digs and holding FSU to a .100 hitting percentage. With 20 digs, sophomore libero Christina Canepa was close behind Ronda, while junior outside hitter Lyndsey Holt chipped in 17 and junior libero Sacha Gill added 11.

Offensively, although the Lakers only hit at a .139 mark, they were the aggressor, continuously attacking the Bulldogs. GVSU (20-5 overall, 10-4 GLIAC) tallied 53 kills, almost twice as many as FSU’s 27. Sophomore outside hitter Abby Aiken led the Lakers with a match-high 15 kills, while junior right side hitter Megan Schroeder chipped in with 11.

Sophomore setter Clair Ruhenkamp had a solid performance on both sides of the ball, dishing out 40 assists and picking up 15 digs.

“Our kids were dialed in and ready to go,” said GVSU head coach Deanne Scanlon. “It was one of the best matches we have played all year. We played great defense, our effort was good, our energy was good and we battled from behind several times.”

While statistically the Lakers dominated, the match was closely contested. There were 21 tie scores and 11 lead changes in the three sets.

“We can control the effort we give in every play and we did that,” Aiken said. “It is really a momentum changer for the season. We have to win the rest of our games if we want to go into the postseason and have a good spot in the conference tournament.”

Down 14-13 in the opening set, GVSU used a kill from senior middle blocker Eno Umoh, an error by the Bulldogs, an Aiken putaway and a combined block from Umoh and Ruhenkamp to take four straight points. They would never look back as Ferris State (19-6 overall, 12-2 GLIAC) never got closer than a point the rest of the set.

In the second frame, FSU jumped out to leads of 10-4 and 12-6, but GVSU fought back. It was a back and forth battle the rest of the way, as the score was tied at every point between 14 and 25, with the exception of 19 and 22. A kill from Ronda put the Lakers at set point and Canepa finished things with an ace.

“It is one of our most important wins of the season,” Scanlon said. “Hopefully we can build on it. We lost to them earlier in the year and there is a reason we lost to them. I think we addressed that and were able to come away with a win.”

The Lakers will stay on the road this weekend, heading to Saginaw Valley State University on Friday and Lake Superior State University on Saturday. It will be the team’s final road trip for the regular season.
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