GVSU falls to FSU in championship match

GVL / Emily Frye 
Junior Kaleigh Lound (#15)

GVL / Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Junior Kaleigh Lound (#15)

Jay Bushen

Senior outside hitter Courtney Rehm smacked home the game-winning kill, followed it up with a celebratory stomp and slapped the GV logo at midcourt with both hands. No tiebreaker was needed in this one.

Rehm recorded 10 digs and a match-high 17 kills as the No. 18 Ferris State volleyball team defeated No. 16 Grand Valley State in four sets (25-13, 23-25, 25-22, 25-22) at Fieldhouse Arena on Sunday for its first GLIAC Tournament championship in 10 years.

“We just had a mindset of wanting to win,” said Rehm, who was named the GLIAC Tournament MVP after the match. “Grand Valley is always an amazing opponent. We just persevered.

“We knew they were going to come out strong, so we just tried to fight that as much as we could and did our best to worry about our side – we know they have great players up and down the board.”

After sharing the regular season championship with matching 17-1 records in conference play, the pair of GLIAC North foes swept their way to the tournament championship game. The highly anticipated title bout was certainly an entertaining one, as three sets were decided by fewer than four points.

The only exception was the first set, where Ferris State seemed to make a statement by racing out to a 12-2 lead. The Bulldogs were impressive defensively as they limited the Lakers to a .023 hitting percentage.

The GVSU attack improved in a second set characterized by 13 tie scores and six lead changes, though, as junior Kaleigh Lound led the way with a trio of kills before Kourtney Wolters sealed it with a set-winning kill.

The Lakers would not lead again, however, as the Bulldogs refused to let GVSU’s outside hitters beat them. The outside hitters combined to rack up 18 kills, but their 21 errors translated into a -.026 hitting percentage in the match.

“I feel there were just people that didn’t show up to play and perform,” said GVSU coach Deanne Scanlon. “Basically our outside hitter positions were not only not productive, they were terminal, fatal to our effort tonight.

“Our middles played a good game offensively and Kourtney (Wolters) did a great job playing defense, but we have to find an answer for our outsides. They’re too much of an important part of what we do.”

GVSU’s middle blockers were able to capitalize on their opportunities, and made a number of big plays to keep the Lakers in the game. Lound, who finished with a team-high 14 kills, combined with Ally Simmons and Sydney Doby to hit .423 in the match.

GVSU senior Kaitlyn Wolters, who was tabbed as the GLIAC Volleyball Player of the Year and GLIAC Setter of the Year on Saturday, racked up 42 assists and seven kills while senior Christina Canepa, the GLIAC Libero of the Year, recorded 17 digs.

Canepa and Lound represented GVSU on the GLIAC All-Tournament Team while Rehm, Caroline Heitzman and Megan Vander Meer did the same for FSU.

After the match, Canepa said the Lakers will have to refocus this week prior to the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s really important that we don’t get too down because we have another tournament to play in,” Canepa said. “Tonight, it’s pretty obvious that they were the better team. They deserve to win. And now we can use this loss to come in and be prepared for next week.”

The Lakers and Bulldogs figure to be two of the higher-seeded teams in the regional tournament, which begins this week.