GVSU volleyball season ends in heartbreak against Wayne State

GVL / Shelia Babbitt
GVSU Volleyball on Wednesday November 15, 2017.

GVL / Shelia Babbitt GVSU Volleyball on Wednesday November 15, 2017.

Brady McAtamney

The Grand Valley State volleyball team dropped a nail-biter to the Wayne State Warriors three sets to two on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Fieldhouse Arena in the GLIAC Tournament, ending their season.

The Lakers handled the first set 25-22 with four kills each from Sydney Doby and Staci Brower. While only hitting .111 in the set, the team managed 29 total digs, which would end up being the most for either team in any set during the match.

With a 1-0 lead in hand, GVSU was unable to close out the second set as the Warriors inched past with a 25-23 set victory. Brower again put down four kills, this time alongside Emmalee Flagstead who managed four of her own in the set.

Tied at 1, the Lakers rebounded to win the third set 25-22 despite hitting only .094. Hannah Murdock tallied four kills in the set to help the Lakers capture their second advantage of the night.

The roller coaster nature of the match would continue with the fourth set, though, when WSU rallied back from a 20-15 deficit and win 28-26 to send the match to a final fifth set where they would hit at a whopping .400 clip to secure the win 15-9.

“They put the pressure on us, and we did not respond to it,” said head coach Deanne Scanlon. “Volleyball is that kind of game, it’s like you get punched in the face and how are you going to respond to it? Are you going to punch back? Or you can step back and take another one. Hats off to Wayne. They played aggressive, they stayed aggressive and they fought back.”

The Lakers were led by Brower, who put up 16.5 points with a .393 hitting percentage; Doby and Hannah Murdock, who added on 12 points each; and Jayci Suseland and Shannon Winicki, who chipped in 9 and 8.5 points, respectively.

Katie Olson acted as the distributor and defensive anchor, handing out 24 assists and scooping 19 digs, both being team highs. Her efforts were aided by Frankie Cavallaro (20 assists and nine digs), Kaylene Norris (16 digs and seven assists) and Murdock (13 digs).

With the loss, the Lakers finish their season at 16-12 overall and 11-5 in the GLIAC.

“We had some high highs where we were playing at a good level and getting some good wins and some really low lows where we weren’t living up to our potential, and we just weren’t able to find that steady presence that we can play with,” Scanlon said. “It’s disappointing because this team, I just shake my head because they have so much talent. 

“But to not be able to figure out how to really play your best when it’s needed the most is something we’ve struggled with all year long.”

Despite the Lakers celebrating Senior Day a few days before, this game served as the seniors’ true final game. While they certainly were not looking to be sent off on a defeat on their home court, Scanlon will never forget the individual and group impacts that Olson, Doby and Danielle McCormick brought to the lives of those they met through GVSU volleyball and the program itself.

“There’s so much growth in these four seniors,” she said, holding back tears. “They’re four very, very individual in their personalities and the traits that they bring to the team. 

“But to just quickly think back to them as freshmen and where they are now, they’re literally not the same people. … That’s a hard takeaway right now with the loss, but I guess that’s what it’s about. You want to see them come in here and grow and leave their mark, and I know it’s not how they wanted to leave, but I will certainly remember them, and I’ll talk about them because I know they did a lot for our program even without us getting into the NCAAs or making a tournament run. 

“Just to really see how much they’ve grown and invested into the program means a lot.”