She can dig it

GVL / Archive
Junior Christina Canepa

GVL / Archive Junior Christina Canepa

Jay Bushen

The poise of junior libero Christina Canepa means everything to the Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team when it’s time to dig deep.

Canepa’s reliable play has helped guide the unseasoned yet surging Lakers to the top of the GLIAC this season, and it figures to be a key element of the team’s postseason success in the coming weeks.

“She’s not loud, she’s not flashy,” head coach Deanne Scanlon said. “She goes about her business, does her thing and doesn’t get too bent out of shape when she makes a mistake. She is a steady defensive presence in our lineup.”

Canepa reached a pair of career milestones earlier this month when she tallied her 1,000th career dig at Michigan Technological University on Nov. 2 before cracking the GVSU top-10 all-time list against Saginaw Valley State University at the Fieldhouse Arena on Nov. 8.

The Grand Rapids, Mich. native chose to deflect the praise to her coaches and teammates.

“As a libero, you don’t get the big kills,” freshman Nicayla Joyce said. “People may not notice (the position) as much, but we do as a team.

“I respect her so much and I think she deserves more publicity than she gets.”

GVSU (24-3, 15-1 GLIAC) holds the second-highest digs-per-set mark (17.27) in the GLIAC this season, and Canepa’s dependability is a big reason why.

She makes her job look easy with her technique, on-court awareness and relaxed demeanor. Her understudy has taken notice.

“She always has control of her emotions,” Joyce said. “Her mindset never wavers on the court and that’s something I need to learn from.”

Canepa’s leadership role goes beyond the boundaries of the Fieldhouse Arena.

The student athlete takes her job seriously in the classroom. She was named to the GLIAC All-Academic Team in 2012.

She also understands the importance of helping her teammates, who she refers to as “family”.

“She is somebody I would go to for advice,” Joyce said. “On a lot of different things, from school to boys. She really helps out to make sure the underclassmen are doing well.”

Canepa said she gained perspective this spring when she had to have surgery on her meniscus. She was unable to join her teammates on the court, something she wasn’t too fond of.

She chose to stay positive and battle through it, though, and still encouraged her team throughout the process.

The absence seemed to make her coach grow fonder.

“We really struggled as a team,” Scanlon said. “We were all over the place with our ball control and defense.”

GVSU has excelled in those two areas this season with Canepa in the back row. She may not be in the spotlight, but her strengths have appeared to be invaluable for a team that can’t stop winning.

The humble libero deserves some credit—with or without the career accomplishments.

“I never thought I would be able to do it,” Canepa said. “It’s exciting. It’s nice to get recognized for working so hard over these past three years.”

The team needs just one victory to clinch the regular season conference championship outright, and will have two chances to do so this weekend at Northwood University on Friday at 7 p.m.and at Hillsdale College on Saturday at 5 p.m.

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