Lakers women’s volleyball team completes perfect weekend

GVL / Jessica Hollenbeck Senior Eno Umoh spikes the ball down during the game on Friday afternoon.

Jessica Hollenbeck

GVL / Jessica Hollenbeck Senior Eno Umoh spikes the ball down during the game on Friday afternoon.

Zach Sepanik

With four consecutive, straight-set victories, the Grand Valley State University women’s volleyball team dominated competition on Friday and Saturday in the Riverfront Hotel Grand Rapids Classic.

Tallying 3-0 against the University of the District of Columbia and Barry University on Friday and Stonehill College and Seton Hill University on Saturday, GVSU (7-1) pushed its win streak to six.

For a team continuing to put its 2011 campaign behind them, they are off to a strong start with already half as many wins as last year just two weekends into the season.

“These kids are really driven and they take the court with a purpose every time,” said GVSU head coach Deanne Scanlon. “Two matches in a day and trying to keep your energy level up is a pretty tough thing to do. Wins aside, I am learning a lot about this team. We don’t have to be so one-dimensional like we were last year.”

GVSU made quick work of the District of Columbia in Friday’s afternoon match, defeating the Firebirds 25-10, 25-16 and 25-20 in 70 minutes.

Different Lakers, 17 in total, contributed to the win but stellar efforts from senior middle blocker Eno Umoh, sophomore outside hitter Abby Aiken and freshman outside hitter Betsy Ronda led the charge.

“It is our home court and we wanted to defend it,” said Umoh, who hit .545 with seven kills and six blocks. “We wanted to come out strong and give the Lakers a good name to show that this is a school you can’t mess with.”

Aiken hit .409 with a match-best 12 kills and Ronda added seven kills and eight digs. The Lakers dished out 42 assists collectively.

In Friday’s nightcap against Barry, which Scanlon called the match to look forward to earlier in the week, the Lakers rolled 25-12, 28-26 and 25-20.

Strong serving from junior libero Sacha Gill, just as in game one, helped pace the Lakers.

Ronda had another impressive outing as well, chipping in with a match high of 15 digs and adding 10 kills.

“She brings an energy that no one else does,” Umoh said. “It is exciting to watch her play and even if things might not go her way, she still gets back at it. It is going to be awesome to see how she grows on this team.”

GVSU stepped on the court Saturday looking to build from Friday’s success. They started things by defeating Stonehill 25-19, 27-25 and 25-13.

The Lakers faced a 20-11 deficit in the second set, but stormed back to tie the score at 21. They eventually took the frame and the match behind sophomore setter Clair Ruhenkamp’s 30 assists and five digs. Limiting the Skyhawks to a .143 hitting percentage was also a contributing factor.

The final match against Seton Hill saw GVSU come out on top 25-16, 25-20 and 25-20.

Ronda recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 13 kills and 14 digs. Junior middle blocker Abby Ebels also had a terrific match, connecting on eight kills in eight attempts for a 1.000 hitting percentage. It was Ebels who tied an NCAA Division II record last season with 13 kills in 13 attempts.

“We have a great team, not just the starters, and no one’s positions are set in stone,” Ronda said. “That just helps us push each other that much harder knowing that people can come off the bench easily because we have a lot of great players.”

The Lakers will now take their six-game winning streak and dominant team play on the road as they head to Hillsdale University to take on the Chargers on Sept. 14 before facing Northwood University the day after.

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