Lakers down Saginaw Valley as students ‘Pack the Fieldhouse’

Krysta Kornack, Eno Umoh, and Leslie Curtis spring to the air in attempt to block the ball

Nicole Lamson

Krysta Kornack, Eno Umoh, and Leslie Curtis spring to the air in attempt to block the ball

Brady Fredericksen

However, when the going is good, it is usually a good time to keep things moving. And that is exactly what senior Rebeccah Rapin and the Grand Valley State University volleyball team did Tuesday night when the team downed GLIAC rival Saginaw Valley State University 3-0 at the Fieldhouse Arena.

The Lakers, whose 11 straight wins are the most by the team since rolling to 22 straight in 2008, proved worthy of their No. 18 national rank by fighting through a team-wide flu bug and an array of self-inflicted mistakes to down the Cardinals.

“With this being our third match in four days, I knew they’d have to mentally gut through the match,” said GVSU head coach Deanne Scanlon. “Being a little tired and sick, we had to push through and regain our focus a few times.”

Tuesday’s game was promoted as “Pack the Fieldhouse,” and the student support was apparent. An attendance of almost 800 fans, along with the dance team and pep band, helped the team fight through its sluggish start to take the match in three straight sets.

“Having everyone at the games is a big motivator for us,” said Rapin, who posted a team-high 12 kills. “When they’re into the game, we’re even more into the game. It gives us that extra push of momentum.”

While the mistakes were more mental than physical for GVSU, the visitors from Saginaw Valley demonstrated sloppy volleyball. Despite leading early over GVSU, Saginaw Valley continuously shot themselves in the foot.

The Lakers, who did not play the cleanest game themselves, were sparked early in the first set by sophomore middle hitter Eno Umoh. Umoh, who leads the GLIAC in blocks per set at 1.25, came out attacking and notched four of her six kills in the first set alone.

“Even though I didn’t feel well, I just wanted to go out and play hard,” said Umoh, who was one of seven players suffering from flu-like symptoms. “I just hoped my play would make them think I’m a threat and give our other hitters better opportunities later in the match.”

Through the first two sets, the team found itself getting out to a lead, then letting the Cardinals back in. The Lakers’ relaxed hold on the lead continued into the second set, which similar to the first lapse, caused a Scanlon time out.

“There were a few times where we had to remind ourselves to play with urgency,” Rapin said. “It’s hard to play with that urgency all the time, but having the fan support (Tuesday night) was key.”

Coming into the match, the Lakers had been carried by their blocking. Tuesday’s output was not the same as the 17 total blocks they showed in Sunday’s win over Northern Michigan University, but the seven block advantage (9-2) they had over Saginaw Valley was a factor in the win.

The offense was balanced as well, with kills coming from Rapin, Umoh, senior Leslie Curtis and senior Krysta Kornack. That balance is a key that coach Scanlon said she hopes continues to evolve as the regular season comes to a close.

“As a team, we’re starting to round into shape and not be as one-dimensional,” she said. “Tonight we went out and won without playing our best volleyball. It’s just becoming less reliant on Rebeccah and giving her a supporting cast.”

Tuesday’s win put GVSU at 17-5 (13-2 GLIAC), good for second in the GLIAC North Division. The Lakers will be back on the court Friday at home when they take on Tiffin University.

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